When you’re privy to an unfettered wealth of information at your fingertips, the problem becomes sorting fact from fiction. And in the rumor mill that is the Internet, you really can’t believe everything you hear. While Facebook has had its fair share of problems this week (think two pretty major outages just days apart), charging to keep your profile private isn’t one of them (yet). Despite the resurfacing of an old hoax that claims the social media giant will require you to shell out over $9.00 a month in order to maintain your profile’s secret status, there’s absolutely no truth to the rumors.
Variations of two fallacious claims, both of which have been around for years, have been making the rounds of various news feeds. One claim, which first arose in 2011, reads, “Now it’s official! It has been published in the media. Facebook has just released the entry price: £5.99 ($9.10) to keep the subscription of your status set to ‘private.’” The claim goes on to assert that the loss of privacy would even extend to deleted messages and photos.
The other claim, originally published in 2012, runs as follows:
“As of September 28th , 2015 at 10:50 p.m. Eastern standard time, I do not give Facebook or any entities associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, or posts, both past and future. By this statement, I give notice to Facebook it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, or take any other action against me based on this profile and/or its contents. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308- 1 1 308-103 and the Rome Statute). NOTE: Facebook is now a public entity. All members must post a note like this. If you prefer, you can copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once it will be tactically allowing the use of your photos, as well as the information contained in the profile status updates.”
Apparently the writer had trouble distinguishing “tactically” from “tacitly.”
Facebook confronted the rumors head-on when they first appeared years ago, stating simply, “Anyone who uses Facebook owns and controls the content and information they post, as stated in our terms. They control how that content and information is shared. That is our policy, and it always has been.” And while some of the firm’s privacy policies may have changed over the years, the changes do not extend to anything like what these claims are asserting.
Of course, if you don’t believe what comes out of the horse’s mouth, snopes.com has also taken it upon itself to debunk the myth. Outlining an extensive history of Facebook hoaxes (which apparently go back as early as 2009), the site makes clear that “there are no plans afoot to require payment from those who use the site.” Back in 2009, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg confirmed that the Internet company had no intentions of charging users for “basic services.”
“The answer is no, we are not planning on charging a basic fee for our basic services,” Sandberg told Business Week. 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.”
Six years later, Facebook is still growing (perhaps not as quickly), and to the best of our knowledge, still doesn’t plan on making you pay to keep your profile private.