Facebook isn't charging a membership fee from its users, and, according to the social media site, it never will.
On Sunday, an online rumor circulated the Web site, claiming that Facebook was going to begin charging as much at $10 per month starting Monday. The rumor caused online panic, and thousands of users were checking to see if the price tag was true.
The hoax was spread through a post-modern chain letter of sorts, with users spreading around a message that was supposed to waive the fees if posted to a Facebook wall.
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, one post read.
There were a few variations of this message that got spread from user to user.
THIS 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!! another message read.
Facebook, which has 800 million users worldwide and could rake in a considerable sum if it decided to charge, responded to the rumors with a message on its log in page that read It's free and always will be.
Facebook's advertising revenue is expected to reach $4.27 billion in 2011, according to ZDNet.
The real take away from the whole episode is actually a question: why would someone bother making this up? Was it simply just a prank?
Chain mail seemed to be a thing of the past, when friends would forward letters promising good luck, or more sinisterly, the avoidance of bad luck, to everyone they knew.
With the growth of the Internet, many are frightened by the spread of viruses through similar postings and false links. The Facebook Fee hoax appears not to have any motives more serious than causing a momentary panic.
It could also be a misguided retaliation for the new changes to Facebook, announced by founder Mark Zuckerberg last week. The CEO introduced the Timeline feature, which will show a user's entire Facebook history on one page. As with most new Facebook changes, the feature caused a large outcry from the online community over privacy issues.