Facebook hoaxes have been around since Facebook came into being, and email hoaxes before them. Normally, they come and go without remark. Now however, one set of hoaxes targeting Facebook itself – namely, that Facebook will start charging users to keep their posts private or that users need to post a privacy disclaimer to maintain their privacy – has become so widespread (as previously reported by the Inquisitr) that mainstream media outlets are actively publishing denials this morning.
As The Guardian puts it, mimicking the tone of the original hoax, “To make it official, we’re publishing it in the media: there’s no need to post an informational message on the social network to warn friends.”
The widely-circulated message claims that “Now it’s official! It has been published in the media,” and indicates that Facebook will be charging an introductory price of £5.99 (in the UK version) to keep your posts private. The Guardian notes that this is easily disproved with a simple search on Google or Snopes, but this hoax is particularly insidious. It doesn’t spread through an external link, like most. Rather, it implores readers to copy and paste it.
“If not tomorrow, all your posts can become public. Even the messages that have been deleted or the photos not allowed. After all, it does not cost anything for a simple copy and paste.”
That’s pretty beguiling, when you consider the underlying message; “do this and it will cost you nothing, not even the time it takes to search Google, but not doing it might cost you everything.” Considering all of the people who have been harmed in the past by private information online leaking to the public, it’s hard to resist doing something so simple.
CNN also got in on the action, spelling out Facebook’s Terms Of Service for readers and noting that the TOS explicitly states that users own their media.
Meanwhile, CBC is reporting that Facebook has published an official denial of the rumor; again, something practically unheard of up to now. Facebook’s policy has normally been to ignore any individual hoax and concentrate on improving the social network’s defenses against hoaxes and fake news.
Even Facebook’s login page today is indicating that “It’s free and always will be.”
Of course, even with 522,000 likes and 507,000 shares, one has to wonder how many will see Facebook’s post as compared to how many have been duped by the hoax. As of last March, Facebook had almost 1.5 billion active users worldwide; 522,000 is a drop in the bucket by comparison.
According to Snopes, this hoax has been around in some form since December, 2009; this version of the hoax actually began circulating in or around September, 2011. That version, as archived by Snopes, barely differs in essence from the current version. One might say that the 2015 version has evolved from this 2011 version, which has never stopped circulating. That should give the reader some idea of how prevalent and difficult to stomp out these hoaxes are.
[Collected via e-mail, September 2011]
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 to be set to “private”. If you paste this message on your page, it will be offered free (I said paste not share) if not tomorrow, all your posts can become public. Even the messages that have been deleted or the photos not allowed. After all, it does not cost anything for a simple copy and paste
Further research from Snopes traces the 2011 version back to a Weekly World News (the infamous tabloid) article, and it seems that in September 2014, fake news site National Report posted their own version of the story. WWN also appears to have updated the dates of the original article several times since.
So, to be absolutely clear on the matter; no, Facebook is not going to start charging users and no, your Facebook posts are not at risk of becoming public.
[Screenshot by Don Crothers/The Inquisitr]