Facebook will never charge you… because it already does

free facebookThe persistent rumor that Facebook will someday charge its users to access the site simply will not die. Since Facebook’s early days, users have clamored around the myth that someday the social network would take captive their years’ worth of photos, comments, friendships, and check-ins. And time after time, the myth has been busted.

Now the announcement of Facebook’s IPO process has resurrected old fears, and yet again the rumors about a paid-for service are insufferably making the rounds. It’s time to extinguish this thing once and for awhile, and this time we have new insight from the company S-1 to lend a little support. 

Facebook says it won’t

This past fall yet another pay-for-Facebook induced craze hit the site as a result of the Timeline announcement. An alleged price grid announcing that there would be different subscription rates to use the site had users in a frenzy – enough so that Facebook actually commented on the rumors. On Facebook’s official profile, the site cleared things up:

sign up“A rumor on the Internet caught our attention. We have no plans to charge for Facebook. It’s free and always will be.”

And this coincides with the message on the login page.

Sure, things change when a company goes public, but this is completely central to Facebook’s core.  It simply makes no sense, unless you think Mark Zuckerberg and company originally set out to lure in users, trap their data, and make off with it like bandits while simultaneously tricking them into paying for a service they’d been duped by.

Facebook’s entire S-1 is about the user

While we don’t think Facebook is out to reel users into paying, we understand the cynicism when it comes to the site’s intentions. This sort of tension between the site and its users over data-harboring  has left some feeling exploited. Of course, both parties are to blame, and this system has to become an accepted necessary evil of using Facebook.

That said, read the S-1 and you might feel a little better. This excerpt particularly speaks to that, and it might help calm any fears:

“Our culture emphasizes rapid innovation and prioritizes user engagement over short-term financial results. Simply put: we don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services.”

Time and time again Facebook insists it is focused on the user and that this sentiment will remain regardless of who owns what shares.  In fact Facebook points out that even though it’s currently not making them any money, it’s been heavily investing in developing the mobile experience for users. It’s sacrificed in other ways to keep users happy as well:

“From time to time, we have taken actions to reduce the volume of communications from apps to users on Facebook with the objectives of enhancing the user experience, and such actions have reduced distribution from, user engagement with, and our monetization opportunities from apps on Facebook.”

Facebook doesn’t need the money

Facebook isn’t faultless, however, and if the site has stretched your patience and tried your trust one too many times, there’s a much more calculated reason it won’t charge you: it doesn’t need to.

Facebook doesn’t need your money because it’s got something way more valuable – your data. Why would the site risk the ire of its users who are providing it content that it then turns into ad revenue? One of the risk factors Facebook identified is that it’s facing increasing competition, and paid subscriptions would ward off new users and drive them elsewhere. From a business perspective, Facebook has everything it needs in your data.

The company’s profits have been unstoppable since it launched, and its net gain grew 88-percent year over year between 2010 and 2011. It’s got a good thing going, and just because it will bring new shareholders (who will still be minority shareholders) on board doesn’t mean it’s going to mess with success.

What users need to realize is that we do pay. Every time we use an app or click an ad, or even just hit the Like button or fill out our profile information, we’re paying Facebook. 

Emerging Tech

Facebook hasn’t given up on the idea of building an internet drone

Facebook's efforts to provide internet connectivity from the skies using solar-powered drones suffered a blow last year when the company abandoned its "Aquila" drone project. But the company clearly hasn't given up on the idea.
Social Media

Facebook just added a petition tool. What could possibly go wrong?

Facebook now has a petition tool called Community Action. Facebook Community Actions allow users to create or support a cause. But is the feature just asking for trouble on a network already plagued by fake news and fake accounts?
Social Media

Facebook reportedly developing LOL meme app to try to appeal to teens

Facebook is reportedly developing an app named LOL, which will feature memes in the form of funny videos and GIF-like clips. The app is said to be in testing in a very limited private beta, but sources said that the app is "cringey."
Smart Home

Busted: Facebook Portal gets 5-star reviews from company employees

It's fair to say that Facebook's Portal smart display received a tepid response at launch, so it was something of a surprise to see lots of glowing reviews of the device on Amazon. Turns out some were written by Facebook workers.

Starting your very own vlog? Here are the best cameras to buy

Any camera that shoots video can be used to vlog, but a few models stand out from the crowd thanks to superior image quality, ergonomics, and usability. When it comes to putting your life on YouTube, here are the best cameras for the job.
Social Media

Twitter extends its new timeline feature to Android users

Twitter users with an Android device can now quickly switch between an algorithm-generated timeline and one that shows the most recent tweets first. The new feature landed for iPhone users last month.
Social Media

YouTube to crack down on dangerous stunts like the ‘Bird Box’ challenge

YouTube already bans content showing dangerous activities, but new rules published by the site go into greater detail regarding potentially harmful challenges and pranks, including certain blindfold- or laundry detergent-based stunts.
Social Media

Nearly 75 percent of U.S. users don’t realize Facebook tracks their interests

Did you know Facebook tracks your interests, including political and multicultural affiliations? According to a recent Pew study, 74 percent of adult users in the U.S. have no idea Facebook keeps a running list of your interests.

It’s back! Here’s how to switch to Twitter’s reverse chronological feed

Twitter has finally brought back the reverse chronological feed, allowing you to see your feed based on the newest tweets, rather than using Twitter's algorithm that shows what it thinks you want to see. It's easy to switch.
Social Media

Nearly a million Facebook users followed these fake Russian accounts

Facebook purged two separate groups behind more than 500 fake accounts with Russian ties. One group had ties to Russian news agency Sputnik, while the other had behavior similar to the Internet Research Agency's midterm actions.
Social Media

Twitter suffers privacy scare as bug reveals tweets of protected accounts

If you set your Twitter account to private and you have an Android device, you'd better check your settings now. Twitter says it's just fixed a four-year-old bug that flipped the privacy switch to make the account public.

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.
Social Media

Spice up your Instagram videos by adding your top tunes to the soundtrack

Have you ever taken a beautiful video, only to have it ruined by some jerk in the background yelling curse words? Here's a list of apps you can use to add your own music to Instagram posts as well as your Story.
Social Media

How to download Instagram Stories

Curious about how to save someone's Instagram Story to your phone? Lucky for you, it can be done -- but it does take a few extra steps. Here's what you need to know to save Instagram Stories on both iOS and Android.