Facebook is not planning to make its users pay £5.99 [or $5.99 for US users] to keep their status updates private. Is this news? It may be to the people who’ve been sharing a hoax claiming the opposite.
“Now it’s official! It has been published in the media. Facebook has just released the entry price: £5.99 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,” claims the widely-circulated chain message.
“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.”
It also does not cost anything for a simple search on Google or myth-busting website Snopes to prove that this is a hoax, thankfully.
In fact, according to the latter site, this particular hoax has been circulating since 2009 in various forms. At least this time round, it is not accompanied by a link that attempts to install malware on your computer.
Facebook’s privacy settings remain unaltered, with posts and accounts able to be kept private by using the drop-down menu while publishing them, or the general-settings menu.
The social network remains a target for hoaxes of this kind, with its sharing options – copy and pasting included – capable of helping them to spread rapidly.
Facebook is trying to combat this. In January 2015 the company announced that it was tweaking its news-feed algorithm to crack down on false and misleading stories.
“Today’s update to News Feed reduces the distribution of posts that people have reported as hoaxes and adds an annotation to posts that have received many of these types of reports to warn others on Facebook,” explained software engineer Erich Owens and research scientist Udi Weinsberg at the time.
The fact that the £5.99 privacy hoax is being copied and pasted rather than spreading through the “share” button may be helping it to avoid those measures.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010