Last night my son came to me with a message some of his Facebook friends had been circulating. He knew that there was a big Facebook announcement last week, but didn’t know if it involved instituting paid service levels. I told him ‘no’ and thought no more. Until this morning, when a post at the Consumerist told me that this message was much more widespread than a bunch of eighth graders.
The image above is from the IT security blog at Sophos, and you can see it refers to ‘this summer’, as this message already got passed around earlier this year. But this weekend – likely in the wake of other Facebook press coverage – it took off again.
Rumors of Facebook charging fees started in 2009 according to Syracuse.com, but at that time a ‘protest’ page was launched …
during a 2009 rumor about Facebook membership fees, urban legend web site Snopes.com reported a protest page was a trap. “Some of those who did venture a click had their computers taken over by a series of highly objectionable images while malware simultaneously attempted to install itself onto their computers,” the web site reported.
As that report notes, Facebook has a revenue model based largely on advertising and has no need (or plan) to charge for service:
Facebook has no need to charge for membership, according to ZDNet. “Facebook makes a lot of money from the ads viewed and clicked by its 800 million active users,” writes Emil Protalinski in his Friending Facebook column. “In fact, the social networking giant is expected to make $4.27 billion in revenue this year, 89 percent of which will come from advertising,” he said.
So why is it taking off this time? According to DigitalMediaWire:
This time they’re being told to post a message on their Facebook wall that the platform will recognize and therefore bypass that account when the bills start going out.
So as always, take everything you read on Facebook (and on the internet in general) with a grain of salt. Consult the official site anytime you see something like this, and beware the motives of people spreading hoaxes or misinformation.