Did Facebook or its parent company Meta announce a plan to charge all of the platform's users $4.99 a month for access? Will copying and pasting a post about the change allow people to "opt out" or "bypass the system"? No, none of that is true: Neither Facebook nor Meta made such an announcement as of this writing. Different variations of these claims have been debunked multiple times since 2009.
The story resurfaced in a post published on Facebook on September 14, 2023. It said, in part:
Just in case..... here we goI'm Opting Out too!So now they are doing it, recently announced on Facebook is charging all users starting Monday. You can do an opt-out by doing this. Hold your finger over this message and copy it. It can't be shared. I do not give permission for Facebook to charge $4.99 a month to my account, also; all my pictures are my property of mine and NOT Facebook's!!!
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Thu Sep 14 15:39:45 2023 UTC)
As seen in the screenshot above, the post specifically directed users to copy and paste its content instead of sharing. This mechanism is known as "copypasta." It expedites the spread of the claim but does not provide the promised protections -- in this post, promised by some attorney whose identity or professional credentials were never revealed in the text.
Facebook's help center explicitly refutes the speculations that the platform is going to charge all users for access:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Thu Sep 14 16:08:49 2023 UTC)
In February 2023, Meta announced the introduction of a new paid service: Meta Verified for $11.99 per month. Since March 17, 2023, it's been available in the United States. However, that fee is charged for additional features, not basic access to the platform.
Another subscription-based mechanism currently used on Facebook and Instagram (both are owned by Meta) "allows you access to premium content," as the platform's help center describes it. That money, however, goes to the accounts using this feature, with Google and Apple charging a "30% fee for in-app purchases."
Although some of the posts in September 2023 named legit-sounding TV channels as a source, a search across news websites indexed by Google News showed only debunks of this rumor. The claim has been circulating on social media for years.
In December 2009, long before the introduction of any subscriptions on Facebook, Snopes reported that some of the early posts about the $4.99 fee led to what was described as a "protest page" containing certain malware-activating elements that could allow hackers to take control over users' computers.
Similar claims about Facebook involving copypasta promised that it will "opt out" people from various platform's policies, "remove ads" and even "regain friends in your feed."
In March 2023, when social media saw another wave of such rumors, one Kentucky TV station pointed out that scammers would use a keyword search (typically focusing on misspelled or strangely spelled words) to find people pasting the claim and share shady links in commentaries, luring users to click on it to, for example, protect their privacy or return control over their information or accounts.
Lead Stories reached out to Meta for additional comments. When we get a response, this story will be updated as appropriate.
Other Lead Stories fact checks about technology can be found here.
(Editors' Note: Facebook is a client of Lead Stories, which is a third-party fact checker for the social media platform. On our About page, you will find the following information:
Since February 2019 we are actively part of Facebook's partnership with third party fact checkers. Under the terms of this partnership we get access to listings of content that has been flagged as potentially false by Facebook's systems or its users and we can decide independently if we want to fact check it or not. In addition to this we can enter our fact checks into a tool provided by Facebook and Facebook then uses our data to help slow down the spread of false information on its platform. Facebook pays us to perform this service for them but they have no say or influence over what we fact check or what our conclusions are, nor do they want to.)