February 24, 2021
paid Facebook version

Mark Zuckerberg Hints at an Ad-Free, Paid Version of Facebook

A paid Facebook version might just emerge sometime in the future as CEO Mark Zuckerberg leaves open the possibility during congressional hearings…

Most of the things found on the internet are free. In some instances, people encounter paywalls shielding content. Other times, certain services come at a price. But, one place that’s “It’s free and always will be” is Facebook. That just might change sometime down the road. And, the news comes from none other than its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. (At least in a roundabout way.)

An Ad-Free Paid Facebook Version might Someday be an Option

The possibility for a paid version of Facebook came when Senator Orrin Hatch asked about a meeting with Zuckerberg back in 2010. It was during the Senate Republican High Tech Task Force. Senator Hatch asked:

“You said back then that Facebook would always be free. Is that still your objective?”

The CEO’s reply definitely points to a paid version of the platform. Zuckerberg answered:

“Senator, yes. There will always be a version of Facebook that is free. It is our mission to try to help connect everyone around the world and bring the world closer together. In order to do that, we believe we need to deliver a service that everyone can afford.”

There’s little ambiguity in this statement. And, it basically mimics the company’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, who gave a more nuanced answer to questions about an ad-free option:

“We have different forms of opt-out. We don’t have an opt-out at the highest level. That would be a paid product.”

It’s clear from these two statements the idea of a paid version for Facebook has already been explored. Additionally, the CEO could not name a single competitor to the platform. Sen. Lindsey Graham asked:

“Who’s your biggest competitor?”

Zuckerberg cited Google, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft as “overlapping.” But Graham pressed on:

“If I buy a Ford, and it doesn’t work well, and I don’t like it, I can buy a Chevy. If I’m upset with Facebook, what’s the equivalent product I can go sign up for?”

Zuckerberg again went into an explanation about categories. To which Graham replied:

“I’m not talking about categories. I’m talking about real competition you face. ‘Cause car companies face a lot of competition. They make a defective car, it gets out in the world, people stop buying that car, they buy another one. Is there an alternative to Facebook in the private sector?”

Finally, Graham asked directly if Zuckerberg thinks Facebook is a monopoly. The CEO replied:

“It certainly doesn’t feel like that to me.”

The chamber immediately erupted into laughter.