Is It Time Facebook Offered a Paid Version With No Ads?
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In his testimony before the US Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg suggested a paid version of Facebook is a possibility.

What would a paid version of Facebook look like? And is it time we started paying for Facebook to stop the social network harvesting our data?

What Mark Zuckerberg Said…

During the hearings, Mark Zuckerberg made a couple of interesting points about a possible paid version of Facebook—this despite the fact that he received extensive training prior to meeting legislators to ensure he chose his words carefully.

Zuckerberg was asked whether his objectives are the same now as when he made earlier statements stating that Facebook would always be free. As reported by The Verge, Zuckerberg replied:

“There will always be a version of Facebook that is free. It is our mission to try to help connect everyone around the world and bring the world closer together. In order to do that, we believe we need to deliver a service that everyone can afford.”

It’s the particular phrase “version of Facebook” that hints to many that there could be a paid version planned for the future.

Later in the hearing, Zuckerberg was asked about Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s recent comments about a paid Facebook product. Sandberg had told The Today Show that the company doesn’t offer users the option to opt out of ads or data collection because “that would be a paid product.”

In the hearings, as reported by CNBC, Zuckerberg clarified:

“I think what Sheryl was saying is in order to not run ads at all we would need some sort of business model. To be clear, we don’t offer an option today for people to pay to not show ads.”

And further on:

“We think offering people an ad-supported service is the most aligned with our mission of trying to connect everyone in the world, because we want to offer a free service that everyone can afford. That’s the only way we can reach billions of people.”

Facebook Is Free, So Why Should I Pay?

facebook paid version

The simple answer to this question is a paid version could help protect your privacy. Even though we have an extensive guide to Facebook privacy The Complete Facebook Privacy Guide The Complete Facebook Privacy Guide Privacy on Facebook is a complex beast. Many important settings are hidden out of sight. Here's a complete look at every Facebook privacy setting you need to know about. Read More , we know there’s only so much each individual use can do. No matter how many settings you tweak, the social network still retains an incredible amount of data about you, even when you aren’t on Facebook and just browsing the web casually.

The recent controversy surrounding the Cambridge Analytica scandal Facebook Addresses the Cambridge Analytica Scandal Facebook Addresses the Cambridge Analytica Scandal Facebook has been embroiled in what has come to be known as the Cambridge Analytica scandal. After staying silent for a few days, Mark Zuckerberg has now addressed the issues raised. Read More has exposed just how much data Facebook stores about its users. The company and its supporters have always said that this is a necessity in order to offer a free service that is funded by ads.

In an article on BuzzFeed, science fiction writer Ted Chiang recently wrote that Facebook’s goal isn’t to connect you to your friends, it’s to show you targeted ads.

So here’s the counter to that: a paid version of Facebook that is ad-free and thus does not require the company to track its users and store personal data Facebook Is Tracking You! Here's How to Stop It Facebook Is Tracking You! Here's How to Stop It Who is tracking your movements online? ISPs, the government, Google... but what about social media sites like Facebook? Yes, them too. Here's how you stop Facebook tracking you around the internet. Read More in order to make money.

About Those Facebook “Premium” Ads…

facebook gold ads

The chances are you have seen a few ads in the past claiming to be offering a paid version of Facebook with extra features and data protection.

This premium version of Facebook is often called “Facebook Gold”. In case you didn’t know, this is a Facebook scam How to Identify a Facebook Scam Before It's Too Late How to Identify a Facebook Scam Before It's Too Late Facebook scams are all the rage, and they can sneak up on you. Here are some warning signs to look out for so you don't get caught in one. Read More and there isn’t any such premium version right now.

If you have signed up for any such service, please disconnect it immediately. If you paid for it, please reverse the transaction, check your credit card, and update your passwords and PIN numbers just to be safe.

Facebook Shouldn’t Be an All-or-Nothing Choice

We’ve established that there isn’t currently a paid version of Facebook available. Which means you have the choice to either use it as is, or delete Facebook entirely. There are plenty of reasons to not delete Facebook, but unless you do you’re stuck with it in its current form.

But is there another way?

After growing as big as it has done, Facebook owes its users more varied choices than the current binary. One shouldn’t have to give up large portions of one’s privacy on the internet to use an essential service in the modern world.

Yes, Facebook needs to make money. So why doesn’t the social network offer an actual choice to those who are willing to pay for it? What it lost in ad revenue could be made up by subscription fees.

Facebook Already Offers a Paid Version for Companies

facebook workplace

We already know Facebook isn’t opposed to paid tiers. Workplace by Facebook is a private social network for business, offering both an ad-supported free version and an ad-free paid premium version.

As you can see by Facebook Workplace’s pricing, the ad-free paid version costs $3 per user per month, for companies with up to 1,000 employees. For companies with over 1,000 employees, the price drops to $1 per user per month.

This is one of those things you should know about Facebook 8 New Things in Facebook You Should Know About 8 New Things in Facebook You Should Know About The world's largest social network is only getting larger every day. From introducing new services to simplifying existing tools, a lot has changed at Facebook in the recent past. Read More , but most people seem to be unaware of Facebook Workplace. The company doesn’t heavily advertise Workplace’s model of offering free and paid tiers because people would start asking awkward questions about why such a system isn’t available for the regular version of Facebook we all know and love put up with.

How Much Would a Paid Version of Facebook Cost?

facebook paid version

Workplace by Facebook actually represents good value for money, but don’t expect to pay anywhere near as low as $3/month for ad-free access to the regular version of Facebook.

In 2013, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone took to Medium to pitch “Facebook Premium,” an ad-free version of Facebook that would cost $10/month. Others have suggested Facebook adopts a subscription-based model similar to Spotify’s The End of Free Music: Should Spotify Make Everyone Pay? The End of Free Music: Should Spotify Make Everyone Pay? Apple is trying for another revolution with the rumored launch of Apple Music, a music streaming service. But along the way, Apple might be trying to kill existing free music streaming services. Boo! Hiss! Read More , where you can access everything Facebook has to offer for $10/month or $100/year.

Facebook Should Be Forced to Offer a Paid Version

facebook data

Taking all of this into consideration there seems to be a genuine case for a paid version of Facebook. But don’t count on it happening any time soon. Despite Zuckerberg’s apparent slip-up, the company will fight it for as long as it can. So much so that we may need government intervention to make it happen.

According to The Economist, the world’s new most valuable resource is data, not oil. And with over 2 billion monthly active users, Facebook is currently the king of data, sucking it up at a rate of knots. This data is simply too valuable for Facebook to voluntarily offer to give it up. And that should concern us all.

Unless governments around the world band together to force Facebook to offer a paid version of its service to users, it’s simply not going to happen. So it seems that regulation, in this case, is a necessity. Especially if we want Facebook to stop influencing elections around the world How Your Data on Facebook Is Collected and Used to Win Elections How Your Data on Facebook Is Collected and Used to Win Elections What do you do when your Facebook data is harvested and manipulated to influence the course of international politics? Read More .

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  1. James Howde
    April 16, 2018 at 10:48 am

    I've got to go along with Dragonmouth here. As well as sounding more like a protection racket than a business plan you have to believe FaceBook when they say - give us money and we'll stop doing that evil, but essentially invisible, thing that nets us even more money.

    Since you see adverts an ad free version would be doable but I'm sure I heard somewhere, something about magic devices that can enable you to not see ads on facebook for free.

  2. dragonmouth
    April 13, 2018 at 5:48 pm

    "is it time we started paying for Facebook to stop the social network harvesting our data? "
    Facebook is addicted to harvesting data and just like any addict, it will do anything to feed its habit. It will implement a pay-for version and then proceed to harvest the data of the users who do pay.

    "The company and its supporters have always said that this is a necessity in order to offer a free service that is funded by ads."
    If the service is already funded by ads, why then sell the data too? Unless it is to maximize profits.

    " the social network still retains an incredible amount of data about you, even when you aren’t on Facebook and just browsing the web casually."
    FB retains an incredible amount of data even on people who never had a FB account.

    "Facebook’s goal isn’t to connect you to your friends, it’s to show you targeted ads."
    From day 1, Facebook was designed to be a data harvesting tool.

    "a paid version could help protect your privacy"
    And you know this how? Because Zuckerberg said so? He makes politicians and used car salesmen look like paragons of veracity. Zuckerberg has switched directions more often than a weather vane.

    "a paid version of Facebook that is ad-free and thus does not require the company to track its users and store personal data in order to make money."
    And you believe that?! Would you like to buy one of the bridges in New York City. For the next 48 hours I can offer you an incredibly low price with 100% financing! But wait! If you sign in the next 5 minutes, I can give you the keys to the city absolutely FREE!

    "Facebook Should Be Forced to Offer a Paid Version"
    Sorry but Facebook is a private company. As such it cannot be forced to do anything it does not want to do unless there is a overwhelming legal reason.