Will You Have to Pay to Use Facebook? Debunking the Subscription Myths

For years now, there has been a persistent rumor circulating that Will Facebook start charging users a monthly fee to access the social network. This rumor likely stems from understandable concern – given Facebook’s market dominance, could they actually start requiring users to pay to use the platform?

It’s not surprising that this idea provokes skepticism and worry from users. After all, Facebook has over 2 billion monthly active users who have come to rely on the service for free. The notion that users might have to suddenly start paying a monthly subscription fee to scroll through their News Feed or stay in touch with friends is alarming.

If Facebook were to implement a monthly charge, it would represent a seismic shift in their business model, and could risk alienating much of their user base. However, as this article will demonstrate, the chances of Facebook actually starting to charge users directly are extremely slim. There are several compelling reasons why relying on advertising revenue, rather than user fees, is likely to remain Facebook’s strategy moving forward.

While a “pay to use Facebook” scenario is improbable, examining this persistent rumor provides insight into Facebook’s business model and future monetization plans. This article will analyze where the charging rumors come from, why users are rightfully skeptical, and how Facebook is likely to continue generating massive profits without resorting to monthly fees.

Origins of the “Will Facebook Start Charging” Rumors

The rumors that Facebook will start charging users a monthly fee likely originated from viral copypasta posts claiming Facebook would begin charging $4.99 per month starting in a certain year. These text posts were copied and pasted repeatedly by users as a hoax or prank, but some people interpreted them as real news.

Beyond the viral copypasta posts, there has also been some genuine speculation and misinterpretation around Facebook’s future monetization plans. For example, when Facebook introduces new paid features for businesses or tests subscription options for other products beyond the core social media platform, some people wrongly assume this means Facebook will start charging regular users too.

More broadly, as people consider the evolution of social media business models, there is an underlying concern that the major platforms will eventually resort to subscriber fees once they saturate advertising revenue opportunities and user growth. This general speculation about future paid business models likely feeds the rumors about Facebook specifically. However, as we’ll explore later, Facebook charging users directly goes against their long-standing principles and stated plans.

Facebook’s Official Stance on Charging Users

Facebook has consistently denied any plans to charge users a subscription fee to use the platform. Company executives have directly addressed the rumors on several occasions and shot down the idea that Facebook would start charging monthly fees.

In a 2018 earnings call, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated, “I’ve seen this one recurring rumor that keeps coming up that we’re going to charge for Facebook. I want to be clear – we’re not going to do that.” He reiterated that Facebook’s mission is to connect people, and charging a fee would go against that mission.

COO Sheryl Sandberg also directly responded to the rumors in a 2019 interview, saying “Facebook is free and will always be.” She emphasized that Facebook is ad-supported, not subscription based, and that the company has no plans to change that.

Charging users a monthly fee would go completely against Facebook’s long-stated company vision to connect the world. Facebook has built its user base on the premise of providing a free social media platform, and it’s unlikely the company would jeopardize that user base by suddenly shifting to a paid model.

How Facebook Currently Makes Money

Facebook’s main source of revenue is advertising. The company makes billions from selling ads that appear in users’ feeds, stories, and across its family of apps. In 2021, Facebook made over $115 billion in total ad revenue. This accounted for around 97% of the company’s total income that year.

Facebook is able to generate massive profits from advertising because it has such an enormous user base to target ads to. With nearly 3 billion monthly active users across its services, Facebook can offer unparalleled reach to advertisers. The granular data Facebook collects on users also allows for highly targeted, personalized ads. Advertisers are willing to pay a premium for this level of access and precision.

In addition to display ads, Facebook earns revenue when users interact with ads by clicking, sharing, or taking other actions. It also provides data to third parties like analytics companies, market researchers, and advertisers to generate insights on user behavior.

While advertising represents the lion’s share of income, Facebook does have some secondary revenue streams. These include payments and fees from developers who build apps on the Facebook platform, sales of its virtual reality headsets, and licensing deals for data and technology. However, these areas pale in comparison to Facebook’s advertising juggernaut, which is among the most profitable in the world.

Why Facebook Probably Won’t Charge Users

Facebook is unlikely to start charging users a monthly fee because it would put the company’s entire business model at risk. Facebook’s advertising-based model relies on having a massive user base to target ads to. Even a small percentage of users leaving could significantly impact ad revenue.

If Facebook were to suddenly implement a $5/month fee, many users would likely abandon the platform and migrate to alternatives like Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat, etc. Facebook could easily lose tens of millions of users worldwide. This massive loss of scale would make Facebook far less attractive to advertisers. Ad rates and overall ad spending on Facebook would plummet.

Facebook earned over $118 billion in ad revenue in 2021. Even losing 10-15% of users could translate to billions in lost ad sales. The relatively minor revenue from user fees would not come close to offsetting these monumental advertising losses.

In addition, Facebook has faced increasing criticism and regulatory scrutiny over its market power and privacy practices. Charging users would invite further backlash and legal headaches. Politicians have already threatened antitrust action against Facebook. User fees could provide ammunition to break up the company.

Finally, Facebook would suffer immense reputational damage and user distrust if they began charging out of the blue. People would see it as a bait-and-switch after having a free service for almost 20 years. Mass public outrage and media criticism could follow Facebook for years. The risk and consequences of trying to charge users simply outweigh any potential benefits. Facebook recognizes this and has consistently maintained it has no plans for subscriptions.

Feasibility of Facebook Shifting to a Paid Model

While charging a monthly subscription fee may seem like an easy way for Facebook to generate revenue directly from users, it’s unlikely this model would actually work or generate more profit than advertising.

Rough estimates suggest that only around 20-30% of Facebook’s billions of users would be willing to pay a monthly fee. Even if the fee was as low as $1/month, this would only result in $2-3 billion in revenue per month. Facebook currently makes around $30 billion annually from advertising alone, so a paid model risks substantial losses.

Facebook could potentially implement a tiered model with basic free accounts and “premium” paid accounts with additional features. However, past attempts by social media platforms to shift to freemium models have largely failed. neither Twitter Blue nor Snapchat+ have seen major adoption. Most users aren’t willing to pay for core social media access.

Additionally, a paid model risks fracturing the user base into haves and have-nots, which could negatively impact the user experience. Advertisers also want to reach the full user base, not just paying users.

Given the massive risks involved and the potential to lose billions in advertising revenue, it’s very unlikely Facebook would voluntarily shift away from its proven advertising model to an unproven paid subscription model. The likelihood of failure is quite high based on other platforms’ unsuccessful attempts at going freemium.

How Facebook Could Further Monetize Without User Fees

Facebook has several options to further monetize their platform without directly charging users subscription fees.

One is continuing to expand their ecommerce and payment features. Facebook could take an even larger cut of sales made directly through shops on Facebook and Instagram. They are also working on new Facebook Pay features and their own digital currency Diem, which could provide additional revenue streams from transaction fees.

Increasing use of “paid social” advertising is another avenue. Facebook is pushing brands to shift more of their marketing budgets into directly paying to boost the reach of their posts. Additional ad formats like Instagram Shoppable Posts provide new paid social opportunities.

Offering premium subscription services for businesses and power users is another potential growth area. Facebook could provide advanced analytics, account management features, and communication channels as part of a monthly subscription plan targeted at marketers and influencers who rely on the platform.

Lastly, Facebook can leverage their massive technical infrastructure and user base to launch entirely new lines of business. For example, Facebook Gaming and Facebook Dating provide new monetization opportunities. Expanding into additional services beyond social media could produce new revenue without impacting the core Facebook experience.


Despite persistent rumors and speculation, it is highly unlikely that Facebook will start charging users a monthly subscription fee anytime soon. As we’ve covered, implementing user fees would go against Facebook’s long-stated principles and business model. It would also pose an enormous risk in terms of losing users and jeopardizing future growth.

Facebook’s advertising-based model relies on having the largest possible user base to target. Charging a fee would almost certainly result in a loss of users to competing platforms, which would then make Facebook less attractive to advertisers. While some loyal users may opt to pay, most would likely seek free alternatives.

Additionally, charging users directly could invite further regulatory scrutiny in some countries and damage Facebook’s reputation at a time when the company is already facing public criticism.

Overall, Facebook’s future success depends on maintaining scale and continuing to build user trust. Introducing monthly fees would undermine both of those goals. While new monetization features like commerce and subscriptions for businesses seem likely, direct fees for users do not.

As such, it’s best to view recurring rumors of Facebook charging with skepticism. There is little incentive for the company to put its underlying free access model at risk. While nothing is certain, users can reasonably expect Facebook to remain free to use for the foreseeable future.