Have you heard that Facebook will begin charging users $2.99 monthly beginning November 1? If you did, you are not alone.
And if you did, and believed it, you were just one of millions that was tricked by another silly hoax.
The rumor originated by a satirical website called National Report which runs not-necessarily-true yet still plausible-sounding stories. Sometimes readers miss the satire and share the story on social media. Then others, without reading the story, will react to the headline and kaboom ... it goes viral as a rumor.
The stories that really become widespread rumors benefit from what is called "nice framing." In this case, the writer claimed to have a "source" inside Facebook that said, "The social media giant says they will start changing member $2.99/mo to use the services that the site has to offer." The article also quoted some fake statements from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
The site also said that Facebook ads are not turning as much profit as they should, as "There's so many pictures of cats, and all of those costs add up, and we just can't foot the bill any longer."
The hoax does raise a big question though - could Facebook charge for service in the future?
Facebook to remain free, always
Despite being responsible for this hoax (and there have been others about Facebook), National Report does include a visible disclaimer that it is a news and political satire Web publication. It also tells that satire does not necessarily have to be humorous. In fact, they also hold that it is up to readers themselves to determine if there is enough evidence to believe stories on the site. One of the goals of their website is supposedly to teach readers to be accountable.
Facebook says that their social media site was originated and designed to be free - and that will always be so. It seems the moral of this story is that people should be careful to check the validity of a story, and even check other sources, before they share or take a position.
After all, that's how rumors (about Facebook or anyone else for that matter) get started.