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Facebook reportedly looking into a subscription-based model

Facebook is considering an option in which people could pay for an ad-free version of the social network, according to Bloomberg.


Mark Zuckerberg said there would always be a free version of Facebook.

James Martin/CNET

Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook will always be free. But based on Facebook's moves, as reported by Bloomberg, there could be a paid version coming in the future.

Rumors have swirled in the past about a subscription-based model of Facebook, where people could pay the social network to avoid ads and maintain their privacy. Facebook's current model can afford to be free because it collects user data, which advertisers can use to target products to specific groups of potential customers. 

But since Facebook's data privacy scandal, where information on 87 million people had been misused by data profling firm Cambridge Analytica, people have become much more wary of how much information they've given the social network. 

According to Bloomberg, there's been growing momentum at Facebook for a new subscription-based model, with the social network conducting market research among consumers to see if they'd be interested in paying for their privacy. 

A Facebook spokesman declined to comment, but pointed to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's answers on the company's earnings call last week.

"We certainly thought about lots of other forms of monetization including subscriptions, and we'll always continue to consider everything," Sandberg said on the call.

During the height of its scandal, Sandberg suggested that for the social network to be completely private and ad-free, it would have to charge users. During Zuckerberg's testimony to Congress, the CEO told lawmakers that there would "always be a version of Facebook that is free," though he did not rule out creating a paid version.   

First published May 4 at 8:59 a.m. PT.
Update at 9:18 p.m. PT: Adds response from Facebook.