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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

1 Notification: Facebook will remain free

If you use Facebook, you’ve probably heard the rumors. Maybe you’ve even joined the group: “”We will not pay to use Facebook. We are gone if this happens.”” Many users already have. In fact, these kinds of groups have collectively attained nearly 310,000 members. But, how legitimate are these claims? And, why is everyone suddenly concerned that Facebook will start charging anyway?

According to Telegraph, an online technology blog, these rumors began circulating a few months ago. Around that time, a hoax e-mail was being passed around the popular social networking site. The message claimed that Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, was under pressure to sell his company to any number of larger corporations. Groups that fight Facebook charges confirm that this is where it all began. The info page of one group states: “”Apparently if Facebook gets sold then there’s a major possibility that it will turn into a Paysite. This is just stupid!”” This statement refers to the idea that the companies who might buy Facebook would be willing to charge its users to gain the potential profits.

But not to worry — Facebook is in the clear for now.

Telegraph’s investigation clearly concluded that Facebook denies any such claims. The blog even quotes a company spokesman: “”We have no plans to charge users for Facebook’s basic services. Facebook is a free service for its 350 million users.””

So, why did such an illegitimate claim become so widely believed? It’s simple. The Facebook “”charges”” only exist because users chose to believe the rumors. Similarly, the rumors became so believable because of the chain of events that caused this idea’s popularity.

As soon as many Facebook users received the hoax message, they automatically believed its contents and panicked. Such frenzy is contagious, especially if emotions are involved — and many people were rightfully enraged by the prospect of paying for an extremely popular and useful site.

In true snowball-effect fashion, this idea grew larger and larger and even picked up specific details along the way. Telegraph explains that, in the UK, users were under the impression that Facebook planned on charging £14.99 per month — the equivalent of more than $23.00. Likewise, in the United States, similar mysterious details gave unwarranted credibility to the rumor. One common belief is that Facebook’s new charges will begin in July of 2010.

In this way, more and more people grew to believe the stories and revolt against the nonexistent plans to charge for Facebook. For example, the group “”We will not pay to use Facebook”” contributed by giving its members the following instructions: “”INVITE ALL!”” This kind of emotional intensity among enraged groups continues adding gasoline to the fire. The same group circulates images around Facebook, calling it names such as “”Fascistbook.”” They also have posted a copy of the hoax email that started it all.

Although anyone could have been fooled by the hoaxes and groups, we should follow Vienneau’s advice. Any evidence of Facebook’s charge plans is completely ungrounded. So keep “”liking”” statuses, creating events, making friends, joining groups and getting thousands of notifications from pesky applications. Facebook will continue to be free of charge, even in July 2010.

—Miranda Butler is a creative writing sophomore.

She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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