Who's Behind The False Rumors That Facebook Might Start Charging?

from the you-gotta-wonder dept

Way back when Friendster was the super hot social networking startup with an unworkable business model, there was suddenly a rush of rumors that the company was going to start charging for use. Even though the company never suggested plans to charge, there was an outcry among users -- and I remember getting messages from people threatening to boycott Friendster if it ever did charge. In fact, many people started suggesting alternatives... with MySpace being a key one. It wasn't long after this episode that many people really did start migrating over to MySpace. Later on there were reports that the "rumors" about Friendster charging were actually started (and then spread) by MySpace employees. And it worked.

It looks like someone may be trying to pull the same trick with Facebook. Apparently a bunch of rumors have been spreading about Facebook planning to charge, resulting in huge protest groups in Facebook, and the company needing to make a public denial of any plans to charge. In Facebook's case, this is even more believable because the company claims that it's already profitable from existing ad sales. And, knowing how Facebook operates, I can't see anyone there seriously considering charging for use. They know the idea is preposterous and would destroy the site.

So the only thing I'm wondering is who kicked off these rumors? Is it another social network? Is it MySpace again trying to regain relevance? Or was it really just another malware scam to get people to click on unsafe links, that then resulted in a misguided panic?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    a-dub (profile), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 1:21pm

    All-right, you got me. I started the rumours..my bad.

     

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  2.  
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    wheatus, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 1:27pm

    hmmm

    Jay Leno

     

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  3.  
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    Ryan, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 1:29pm

    Not necessarilly malicious

    Never ascribe to malice what can be adequately be blamed on stupidity.

    Or: a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth can get its boots on.

    Not very hard for a rumor to propagate like wildfire even in the absence of a targeted effort to spread it.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 1:42pm

    It was The Anti-Facebook!

     

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  5.  
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    mikez (profile), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 1:42pm

    Re: Not necessarilly malicious

    Agreed.

    Add to it the influx of users that are 35+ yrs old and you have a huge user base that isn't as internet savvy as the kids that were the initial users of facebook. I see my friends falling for the scam apps all the time, and have seen many of them joining the protest groups. The most common protest group I see is that fb will start charging $5 a month but saw one claiming fb will charge ₤14.99 a month.

     

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  6.  
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    scarr (profile), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 1:50pm

    FYI, MySpace had to fight off rumours that they were going to start charging too. (I mean a few years ago, when people used it.) I didn't know they might've started that trend on Friendster, but I just assumed it was natural human panic taking over when random people tried to start fires.

    I have intelligent friends and I still see stuff about "Google is going to make all your personal FB info available if you don't change this little setting they didn't tell you about!!!" It's completely misunderstood, and doesn't make sense, but people buy into it.

     

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  7.  
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    :), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 2:20pm

    That is an old hat in all social networks.

    At least the ones I have knowledge of.

    Is like urban legends.

     

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  8.  
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    DJ (profile), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 2:20pm

    Shakira???

    One of the best such pranks to which I've been witness was while I was aboard USS HAWES. Just prior to pulling into a liberty port someone started spreading a rumor that Shakira was performing there. Within hours it had spread throughout the ship as "fact".
    Sometimes, it's just someone trying to see how far a rumor will go before it's quashed.

     

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  9.  
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    Alphager, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 2:42pm

    Emails that $Service is going to start charging soon are as old as the internet. I remember that ICQ (back when people used ICQ) suffered from several such rumour-rounds.

     

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  10.  
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    Simon, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 2:46pm

    Any one else still waiting for that cheque from Bill Gates that he promised if you forwarded his email to 20 friends?

     

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  11.  
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    DJ (profile), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 2:50pm

    Re:

    A check from Bill Gates??? Where do I dign up?!?!??

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 3:03pm

    You heard it here first - Techdirt is going to start charging for access to articles... ;)

     

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  13.  
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    TW Burger (profile), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 3:09pm

    Re: charging for access to articles

    No, Techdirt is going to charge per comment and add a surcharge for misspellings, flames, and naughty language.

    Complete stupidity will require a major credit card and a loan guarantor.

     

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  14.  
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    Johnny Canada, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 3:11pm

    It started by PayPal

    I read something earlier this week about FaceBook will accept PayPal in the future, for transactions between 'members'. (i.e. sales)

     

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  15.  
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    Rob, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 3:50pm

    Re: Re: Not necessarilly malicious

    Those darn 35 year-olds? The ones that have been using the intertubes for 20 years now? Cause they've never seen a or hoax on- or off-line?

    Hey, old people: "Get on my lawn!"

     

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  16.  
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    Steve Mermelstein, Jan 13th, 2010 @ 4:36pm

    This is nothing new

    Back in the 90s when people actually used AOL, these crazy rumors were floated all the time. AOL is going to double fees. AOL is going to charge $10 an hour! AOL is going to charge an extra $15 a month for chat. It was ridiculous. Every AOL member received 4 of 5 of these chain letters in their inboxes everyday.

    It's the same type of idiots behind this stuff now.... mostly malware spammers and the mentally disturbed who get a slight ego boost by telling their friends something they didn't know albeit if it's not even true.

     

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  17.  
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    Palmyra (profile), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 6:38pm

    Re: Re: Not necessarilly malicious

    61 yrs old, on Facebook, got my first PC in 1982, was online from Jan 83 to date, ran my own BBS for years. Built my first TV when I was 16 and can't count how many PCs I've put together. My kids come to me for help.

    Protest groups? You have no idea of what protesting is until you stand across from a bunch of National Guard weekend worriers with fixed bayonets while you are protesting the war and the draft.

    Don't make broad statements kid...

     

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  18.  
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    The Anti-Mike (profile), Jan 13th, 2010 @ 8:48pm

    Re: Re: charging for access to articles

    F-me... I'm going to need a swear jar.

     

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  19.  
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    some old guy, Jan 14th, 2010 @ 3:29am

    Re: Not necessarilly malicious

    Never ascribe to malice what can be adequately be blamed on stupidity.

    That adage does not apply when significantly large amounts of money are on the line. Trust in that.

    You don't accidentally take millions of dollars from your competitors.

     

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  20.  
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    Bert Miller (profile), Jan 14th, 2010 @ 5:34am

    I think marketers

    Some time ago I read an ebook about how to make money on Facebook. Author recommended making viral groups. He put three examples of these groups:
    "Stop The Use Of Live Dogs As Shark Bait!",
    "Find Out Who Downloaded Your Profile Pics By Right Clicking" "Get Your Name In The Guinness Book Of World Records!".
    So IMO smart marketers started these rumours and these protest groups.

     

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  21.  
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    mikez (profile), Jan 14th, 2010 @ 7:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Not necessarilly malicious

    http://www.insidefacebook.com/2009/03/25/number-of-us-facebook-users-over-35-nearly-doubles-in-last- 60-days/

    Sure it's a general statement, but there's truth to it. Just because people my age (41) have been using the internet since it's early days doesn't mean the majority of them have. These are the same people that would forward you 10 emails a day cause they were funny or warned of some imminent danger or the ones that couldn't understand why their computers don't work well after downloading free smileys.

    Don't take general statements personally kid.

     

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  22.  
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    pr, Jan 14th, 2010 @ 8:13am

    Entitlement Mentality Reigns

    Another example of the entitlement mentality that every thing on the internet ought to be free. No rational reason, it just should be. And if it's not, we're going to send and e-mail!

    Maybe Facebook should charge for forming protest groups. That's creating a reason to pay.

     

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  23.  
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    mikez (profile), Jan 14th, 2010 @ 9:47am

    Re: Entitlement Mentality Reigns

    I disagree with you completely.

    It would be a huge leap to suggest it's entitlement mentality behind this.

     

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  24.  
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    The Contrarian view, Jan 14th, 2010 @ 10:46am

    Facebook should charge.

    I disagree that charging for facebook is preposterous and would destroy the site. If facebook charged for the service the bill would be similar to cheap web hosting, perhaps even as little as $30 a year. Facebook would finally stop messing around with people's privacy settings, i.e:
    http://gawker.com/5428155/the-facebook-privacy-settings-youve-lost-forever . They won't have to concern themselves with trying to please advertisers.

     

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  25.  
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    nasch (profile), Jan 14th, 2010 @ 12:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: charging for access to articles

    Oh, that is rich! It's the swearing that TAM is worried about!

     

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  26.  
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    Jess Lyons, Jan 16th, 2010 @ 7:23pm

    Facebook already has said through their blogs that they will not/ will never charge for services and cleared up many other rumors, problem is noone reads the blogs. Mark Zuckerberg has to send the announcement to everyone with the link to the article. The blog site is http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=7830237130

     

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  27.  
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    chris, Jan 24th, 2010 @ 12:29am

    Bored people start rumors!

    get obesity facts! Find solutions! http://www.fitnessdeeds.com

     

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  28.  
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    g, Feb 12th, 2010 @ 5:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Not necessarilly malicious

    Hey Rob

    You'll be 35 someday and then we can call you old...and then you'll have to change your name to Bob.

    PS. I could use some young kid like you to cut my lawn.

     

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  29.  
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    Neil, Feb 13th, 2010 @ 12:07am

    Re: Re: Not necessarilly malicious

    Give me a break! Most of the people in those groups are teenagers, not adults!

     

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  30.  
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    John, Feb 13th, 2010 @ 11:18am

    Actually...

    While charging for Facebook is only a rumor, I have inside knowledge that they are going to start cutting off minors from using it, you are only going to be allowed to have an account if you're 18+. Anybody under 18 will be investigated.

     

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  31.  
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    Sara, Feb 25th, 2010 @ 11:49am

    Re: Not necessarily malicious

    That is hilarious. My husband and I are both in the tech industry. I work as a software trainer and it's amazing how tech ignorant "kids" under 35 are! Yeah, they know how to google, IM, use fb and myspace but they don't know how to use the software, write code or troubleshoot problems. It shocks me how ignorant some 18-30y.o. users are. You are dead wrong in assuming that "old" people over 35 are the only neophytes in the technical arena. (plus you misspelled necessarily...)

     

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  32.  
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    jessie mcmillan, Mar 18th, 2010 @ 2:52pm

    old hag

    pussy you should have fought little bitch

     

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  33.  
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    Leech, Apr 30th, 2010 @ 6:25pm

    Pay for Facebook

    I AM THE ONE Please send me all payments in a plain brown paper bag, sealed with stcky tape. If not available your credit card will suffice, but make sure your pin number is on it too. In eturn I will snd you a free mobile phone and a pack of six steak knives. Do not use my Nigerian address.

     

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  34.  
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    Mary, May 25th, 2010 @ 9:21am

    Facebook Rumor

    This rumor has all started with a "Become a Fan" now known as a like page.

     

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  35.  
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    Dale (profile), Jun 29th, 2010 @ 9:27am

    The trouble with rumors is that sometimes they become the truth. You young people ask some of the older people about the free web pages from tripod or homestead or a host of other companies that gave you space for a while and assured everyone it would remain free then started charging. It may be a rumor but they have a way of becoming fact. When a company decides to close the doors they reassure all the workers that the rumors of closing are false and their jobs are safe. It may be good that some people are letting facebook know how they feel about paying for the service.

     

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  36.  
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    Ash, Aug 10th, 2010 @ 2:17pm

    Facebook has stated ON their sign up page and I quote, "It's free and always will be."

     

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  37.  
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    Consumer Slave, Dec 17th, 2010 @ 6:24am

    Naive?

    How is it so many people take what a company says at face value? (Pardon the pun). It doesn't matter one iota what someone says from one day to the next, people in business are there to make money. The only reason they will do or not do something is with that in mind. If facebook work out that they can charge users and still make more money after losing everyone who wont pay, then they will do just that.

    Just about everything that is free on the internet has one end goal - to make money. There is no fantastic modern brotherhood of sharing, I am astounded at how many people buy into that.

    Some smaller guys and individuals will be able to act with some notion of values and ethics, corporations are simply incapable of doing anything other than exploiting the masses for their own profits, that is their requisite goal and their legal status demands that they do so.

    Google is exactly the same, it makes untold fortunes through advertising and selling personal data. It has broken laws in countless countries and got away with it. It is a law unto itself and if one day it decides to start charging for any of its services there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it other than make it uneconomical for them to do so. The direction things are taking mean that the majority will end up in a position where they will pay rather than go through the inconvenience of removing and swapping all their apps etc. that is if we still have any choice of alternatives in ten or twenty years.

    The people who head politics and corporate business are always the most two faced double crossing liars to claw, fight and trick their way to the top.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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