Online postings claim the social media website Facebook will soon begin charging members a monthly fee for basic services.
Description: Hoax / Malware scam
Circulating since: Dec. 2009
Status: False (see details below)
May 2012 example:
As posted on Facebook, May 16, 2012:
FACEBOOK JUST RELEASED THEIR PRICE GRID FOR MEMBERSHIP. $9.99 PER MONTH FOR GOLD MEMBER SERVICES, $6.99 PER MONTH FOR SILVER MEMBER SERVICES, $3.99 PER MONTH FOR BRONZE MEMBER SERVICES, FREE IF YOU COPY AND PASTE THIS MESSAGE BEFORE MIDNIGHT TONIGHT. WHEN YOU SIGN ON TOMORROW MORNING YOU WILL BE PROMPTEDFOR PAYMENT INFO...IT IS OFFICIAL IT WAS EVEN ON THE NEWS. FACEBOOK WILL START CHARGING DUE TO THE NEW PROFILE CHANGES. IF YOU COPY THIS ON YOUR WALL YOUR ICON WILL TURN BLUE AND FACEBOOK WILL BE FREE FOR YOU. PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE ON IF NOT YOUR ACCOUNT WILL BE DELETED IF YOU DO NOT PAY
July 2011 example:
As posted on Facebook, July 5, 2011:
It's offical. signal at 12:20 it even passed on tv. Facebook will start charging this summer. If you copy this on your wall your icon will turn blue and facebook will be free for you. Please pass this message if not your count will be deleted. p.s, this is serious the icon turns blue, So please put this as your status
Dec. 2009 example:
As posted on Facebook, Dec. 28, 2009:
We're leaving Facebook if they try to charge us. Invite all your friends and together we can make a stand.
All the details can be found at this site [URL deleted]
Business - Public Relations
WE'RE NOT PAYING FOR FACEBOOK
Open: All content is public.
WE'RE AGAINST THE 4.99 A MONTH CHARGE FOR FACEBOOK FROM JUNE 30TH 2010
Analysis: A version of this text first appeared in 2009 on a bogus Facebook page inciting users to protest an alleged plan by the company to charge a $4.99 monthly fee. Similar false claims have circulated before (and since). In this particular case, members were directed to an external website that delivered malicious software to unsuspecting visitors. Facebook has since deleted the group.
While Facebook executives have never explicitly ruled out instituting fees for specific features on the site, they have repeatedly denied having plans to impose a blanket charge on all users. The question was put to Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg in an April 2009 interview with Business Week editor Stephen J. Adler.
"The answer is no, we are not planning on charging a basic fee for our basic services," Sandberg said. "Once again, that question stems from people thinking we're growing so quickly, we're running out of money. We're growing really quickly, but we can finance that growth. We're not going to charge for our basic services."
2012 update: A May 2012 resurgence of this rumor appears to have been exacerbated by news that a new tool enabling Facebook users to make their posts more visible to friends for a fee is being tested in New Zealand. Two points: first, it's a test; second, it's a far cry from charging users a membership fee. Read more...
Sources and further reading:
No, Facebook Is Not Going to Charge for Their Site
AllFacebook.com, 29 December 2009
Does Facebook's Business Plan Include Premium Memberships?
Business Week, 10 April 2009
Sheryl Sandberg on Facebook's Future
Business Week, 8 April 2009
Why Facebook Will Never Charge You
Mashable.com, 30 September 2011
Last updated 05/16/12