Facebook is reportedly considering an ad-free version in its social networking site paid by subscriptions.
The social networking giant has been conducting market research in recent weeks to find out whether an ad-free version would attract more people to join the social networking.
The company has studied such an option in the past, but now there’s more internal momentum to pursue it in light of Facebook’s recent privacy data scandal.
During the company’s first-quarter earnings call last week, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said the company has “certainly thought about lots of other forms of monetization including subscriptions and we’ll always continue to consider everything.”
Moreover, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hinted as much as last month, when he testified before Congress. “There will always be a version of Facebook that is free,” he said.
However, the plans are not solid and may not go forward, according to people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. Facebook declined to comment on the possibility of a subscription-based ad-free service.
Zuckerberg has long considered such an alternative -- not to replace the social network’s business model, but to remove a common reason people give for leaving the service.
The company generated virtually all its $41 billion in revenue last year by selling ads targeted with user data. Internal company research in past years concluded consumers wouldn’t be receptive to a subscription option, seeing it as Facebook being greedy and asking for money for something it said would always be free, the people said.
For years, Facebook executives celebrated the virtues of its ad-supported network, which allowed it to offer its social network for free to everyone.
The strategy led it its status as a$503.9 billion company with 2.2 billion members that rake in 98 percent of its total revenue through advertising targeted with user data. Only Google sells more digital ads.
Now, Facebook thinks consumer sentiment may be changing. The company is facing a crisis of public trust after a developer gave personal information on millions of Facebook users to Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm that worked on Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
News of the data leak spurred questions about the information Facebook collects on people for ads, and whether users are tracked and targeted in ways they don’t expect or understand.
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