UPDATE (02/20/2023): Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Feb. 19 that the company is testing a new subscription service called Meta Verified that will let Instagram and Facebook users pay for a verified account. The Meta Verified subscription bundle includes a verified badge that authenticates a person's account with government ID, proactive account protection, access to account support and increased visibility and reach.
People can purchase a monthly subscription for $11.99 (USD) on the web and $14.99 (USD) on iOS and Android. Meta says testing will begin in New Zealand and Australia this week, and then roll out to the rest of the world soon.
Public figures and others who were previously verified won't be affected by the change. Meta Verified is aimed at influencers and others who use social media for their business but aren't notable public figures.
The original story remains as published below:
In late October, Facebook’s parent company, Meta, reported their quarterly earnings and said they were experiencing a decline in revenue and profit, amid a slump in advertising dollars. The company’s struggles led headlines, and users on the website began to claim Facebook would soon charge a fee to use its services.
Two different chain messages, both claiming that posting the chain message to your wall would allow you to keep using Facebook for free, started simultaneously spreading across the social media platform.
One message read:
It's official Signed at 7:14. It's even passed on TV. Facebook will start charging this summer. If you copy this to your wall your icon will turn blue and your Facebook will be free for you. Please pass this message, if not your icon will be deleted.
P.S. this is serious, the icon will turn blue
(Copy and paste to your wall)
The other one read:
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.
Several readers asked VERIFY if the messages were true.
Has Facebook announced plans to charge a fee for using the platform?
No, Facebook has not announced plans to charge a fee for using the platform
WHAT WE FOUND
Chain messages claiming Facebook is on the verge of charging its users to continue using its services have persisted for over a decade now. That includes both of the messages that have recently circulated on the platform.
One of the messages, the one claiming Facebook has released a price grid for three different tiers of “membership,” has existed on the platform since at least 2009. A Snopes article from Dec. 31, 2009, documented the message, and someone posted the message into a group based around the rumors back in 2011.
The “it’s official” message has existed since at least 2011. Naked Security, a cybersecurity news website, and Facecrooks, a website dedicated to calling out Facebook scams, both called the message a hoax in articles published July 3, 2011. This version of the rumor has also reappeared several times since then — a video posted to Facebook in 2016 debunked it.
Variations of these chain messages have circulated and been debunked by fact-checkers several times in the last decade. Most recently, Snopes ran a second article in 2020 debunking the claim.
Facebook has remained free since it first became accessible to the general public in 2006.
Today, Facebook’s Help Center still reassures people the website is free to use, and shares the way the company makes its money is through advertisers.
“No, we don’t charge you to use Facebook,” Facebook says. “Instead, we charge advertisers to show ads on the Facebook family of apps and technologies. This helps us make Facebook available to everyone without charging people for access to it.”
This messaging has also remained consistent over the years. In 2018, Facebook Security addressed similar rumors about user fees.
“Facebook is a free site and will never require you [to] pay to continue using the site,” Facebook said at the time.
The chain messages claim Meta’s plan to turn into a premium service was “even on the news.” As of Oct. 28, 2022, VERIFY could not find any news articles that reported on any plans to start charging users fees to use Facebook.
Meta did not respond to a request for comment prior to publishing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
More from VERIFY: No, posting on Facebook won’t protect your photos or data