A good rumor never dies, it merely goes away for a while. Despite categorical denial every time this rumor surfaces, people still believe the rumor that Facebook will begin charging a membership fee. This is not true, nor has it ever been true. BUT... at times time the rumors have been sparked by some very real speculation.
The most common incarnation of the rumor is one of those lovely ALL-CAPS messages (see below), with an official-sounding “price grid” in the text. Of course if you “copy and paste this message before midnight” you’ll get free service. Hogwash! This rumor has been recycled more times than one can count. It isn’t true, nor does Facebook have any plans to charge for their service. If you see this rumor posted on Facebook, post a link to this article and tell them to stop spreading rumors and posting such nonsense “just in case” it’s true.
The May 2012 Rumor
There was speculation in early 2012 from sites like CNET that Facebook may begin offering paid services, such as highlighted status updates, as was tested in New Zealand in a program called “Pay to Promote.” There have been no announcements that this plan will go any further. Be aware that the New Zealand model is more of a paid add-on than a blanket fee for all users. Such speculation, and perhaps the tests in New Zealand, came just ahead of the Facebook stock offering in May 2012. Some observers were of the opinion that Facebook may have considered more creative ways to generate revenue in the months just after the stock went public.
The Weekly World News also posted an alarmist article about Facebook charging fees, but really – it’s Weekly World News.
The rumor being circulated since at least early 2012 states:
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 PROMPTED FOR 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 I DONT KNOW (HOW TRUE THIS IS BUT WHAT THE HECK DONT HURT ANYTHING SO I DID IT…)
6/12/12 Update – Here’s a new version floating around:
********IT IS OFFICIAL. IT WAS EVEN ON THE NEWS. FACEBOOK WILL START CHARGING. DUE TO BEING PUBLICLY TRADED ENTITY. IF YOU COPY THIS ON YOUR WALL YOUR ICON WILL TURN GOLD AND FACEBOOK WILL BE FREE FOR YOU FOREVER. PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE ON, IF NOT YOUR ACCOUNT WILL BE DISABLED IF YOU DO NOT PAY.***********
Bottom Line There is no plan to charge users to use Facebook. Period. There is speculation that there may be additional paid features in the future, but no such announcements have been made. If you look at Facebook’s landing page when you’re logged out, it clearly states, “It’s free and always will be.”
This article was updated on January 13, 2013.