Facebook users are being urged to ignore a scam in circulation claiming that the popular social-media platform is to start charging membership fees for access. The warnings have continued to surface in various forms for over the past seven years despite resolute denials from Facebook officials that they are in any way legitimate.
The latest reads: "Attention: Tomorrow morning when you connect to Facebook you'll be invited to payment info ... it's official ... it was even on the news. Facebook will begin to charge fees. If you copy this on your wall your icon will be blue and Facebook will be free to you."
But there is no need for you to do this, because no charges are planned.
The urban myth is so popular that Facebook has been forced to place a description of the hoax on its help page. Titled You're in Control, the entry states:
"You may have seen a post telling you to copy and paste a notice to retain control over things you share on Facebook. Don't believe it.
"Our terms say clearly: You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you can control how it's shared through your privacy and application settings. That's how it works, and this hasn't changed.
"You can visit Privacy Basics to find out more about who sees what you share on Facebook and other topics. You can also read the Data Policy to find out what information we collect and how it is used and shared. We want you to be informed and in control of your experience on Facebook."
Snopes – which is a website dedicated to investigating popular myths, has collected a number of the hoaxes that have spread over the years and fooled gullible users since at least 2009. However, the scam does have a serious side, with some the ploys being used to spread malware to unwitting users' computers.
"The claim that Facebook would be initiating user charges was but the bait to lure people to the protest page and its hidden malicious payload; there are no plans afoot to require payment from those who use the site," said David Mikkelson, founder of Snopes.