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Will Facebook and WhatsApp become chargeable “if you don't share this message with 10 of your contacts”?

This poison has been circulating on social networks for years. It is obviously false. The social network and its messaging service are free (but not without compensation). It is even the basis of their economic model.

“Saturday morning, Facebook will be paid.” Use of the social network “will cost $ 0.01 per message”, unless you share this warning message with 10, 15 or 30 friends. In which case, “we will see that you are a regular user”, so “the logo will turn blue” and Facebook “will remain free”. The same warning is circulating for WhatsApp, the messaging application belonging to Facebook. So, true or “fake”?

This type of text (including spelling errors) has reappeared regularly on social networks for ten years. This is an old intoxication, which Franceinfo already talked about in 2016 and in 2015. Facebook assures in a FAQ that its network is “accessible to all for free” and, once registered, the“use” is also “Free”. Likewise, WhatsApp wrote a post on its blog to deny this “hoax”. “Know that it is a rumor and that nothing is true”, writes the messaging service, which adds: “We would prefer to work on cool new features, rather than having to refute absurd stories like these.” This text dates from 2012, but it is still relevant.

As the site specializing in the Hoax-Slayer intoxication recalls (in English), The message targeting WhatsApp recycles that targeting Facebook. Itself was adapted from an older hoax, intended for users of MSN messaging and appeared in 2006. The latter was already recycling a text written for users of the Hotmail service, viral since at least 2003.

If this warning about the future paid nature of Facebook is false, the mention of free social network disappeared from its login page, in August 2019, as reported by Tom's Guide. The slogan “it's quick and easy” succeeded to “it's free and it will stay free”, present for more than a decade. This disappearance has contributed to many speculations.

Didn't Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg half-admit in April 201 that his company planned to charge subscribers for certain services, such as ad-free browsing? “There will always be a free version of Facebook”, Said the boss of the American giant, quoted by CNBC (in English), then questioned by American senators as part of the investigation into the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the British company that used the personal data of millions of social network users for political ends.

“To be clear, we are not currently offering an option for users to pay for not showing ads, he had developed. We believe that offering people an ad-supported service is most consistent with our mission to try to connect everyone in the world, because we want to offer free service. It's the only way to reach billions of people. “

At present, “To fund the platform, we are asking advertisers to pay to run their ads”explains Facebook laconically on its site. Clearly, the company monetizes its global audience. “It is almost a cliché to say that you are the product, but everyone now realizes that Facebook is following you and sending you advertisements. It is not a public service”, said Mark Bartholomew, professor of law at the University of Buffalo, interviewed by USA Today. “Facebook is not free and never was: Facebook currency remains the personal data of users (…) This data is worth a lot of money “, Confirms lawyer Jose Antonio Castillo, digital law expert interviewed by Business Insider (in English).

Computer scientist Laurent Chemla, member of the La Quadrature du net association, explains: “You accept the use of your personal data, you accept leonine user contracts which make you a workforce without rights or title, you agree to be tracked, traced, tracked so that the end customer (generally an advertising agency) know everything about you to better target you. “

It is not necessarily you who pay, at least not consciously, but your use of the service is not without consideration.Laurent Chemla, computer scientistSquaring the Net

“None of this is free, He added, and at the end, it is always the consumer (therefore you, and all the more so if you are well targeted) who pays for the advertising. It may be worth remembering. ” The adage “if it's free, you're the product” applies perfectly to the economic model of social networks.

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