No. Facebook is going to remain free for all to use. This is clearly stated on Facebook’s Help Center. If you read somewhere that Facebook is going to begin charging everyone for access, that’s just an old hoax that gets passed around every few years. Don’t spread that nonsense, please!
But Meta is starting a paid service for Facebook and Instagram accounts, called Meta Verified. This new offering is purely optional. Starting at $12/month, this service is intended for famous people and content creators, and will offer them a special badge of authenticity and access to human tech support.
Meta Verified is not meant for regular people like you and me. It’s meant for celebrities and people who are more often targeted by criminals and impostors. Most of my readers can forgo this expense, and keep using Facebook as they always have.
I do see people grumping about this change, specifically where Meta Verified users get access to real live help at Facebook. Regular users get almost no assistance, if they are ever locked out of their accounts. It may seem unfair that, to get proper support, you have to pay up to the Almighty Zuck.
But the harsh counterpoint to that is: If you use Facebook for free, you are not a customer. You are the product. Facebook makes most of its money from their true customers (advertisers), selling access to their resource, a vast, semi-captive audience. While this point of view doesn’t make it feel any better, it may help explain why Meta does so little for us regular Facebook users.
The internet is a hotbed for crime, Facebook especially so. It’s simply too big to police. But since we can’t give up using the internet or Facebook, our other options are to prepare, learn and adapt. I encourage you to maintain a rampant skepticism as you use the web.
Come with me and consider the following scam post from Facebook:
This post popped up in a local Facebook group and triggered my Spidey-Sense. But even I had to pause and doubt myself. C’mon, Jesse, it’s just some eggs, people are always selling off their excess henfruit. But as I dissected this post, I knew my gut was right.
The first clue here was plainly visible: the poster turned off commenting for their post. Surely, there are good reasons to turn off comments on group posts. But if you are selling something, comments usually aren’t that big of a deal. The next clue is the few comments that occurred before they were turned off:
Notice that the poster is trying to get the commenters to PM her immediately, using identical comments. And the poster commented on her own post, first thing. These do not constitute a smoking gun, but they are suspicious to me, and I see this on many spammy posts.
Going further, I click on the poster’s name and noticed the following:
A new member in that Facebook group? Oh, really? Again, it’s not proof of a scam, but it looks more and more sus, as I go. Next, I clicked further to visit her Main Profile page:
There’s nothing here except for two photos. As I click through every menu, there is no other info to be gleaned. No Details, no Friends, no other Posts, etc. And that’s OK, I recommend that you hide most of your info from public view. But still, most of the locals would have a little something here to make them look authentic.
Next, I went to her two public photos. Those photos had one Like on each of them:
Two very nice looking people… from Kenya. I don’t have anything against the people of Kenya, but what are the odds that this poster in rural Virginia has two friends in Kenya (and no one else!), liking her photos?
The Final Clue
By now, you’re looking this over and nodding your head and thinking, “Yup, sure is fishy.” But thinking like a scientist or lawyer: All of these clues so far suggest something is off, but there is still a non-zero chance that maybe this character is really selling eggs in my community. So let’s go further.
I highlighted and copied the first sentence of her post, and then pasted it into Facebook search field in the left corner. And I turned up another FB post by the same poster:
Different photo, but the same exact text, posted at the same time as her other post. But wait, she posted in a Virginia group, and Nacogdoches is in Texas. And she’s ready to deliver in both states? To quote a Tarantino film, “Now I am calling you a liar, Señor Bob.”
After recognizing the scam on Facebook, I reported the content as best I could, to both Facebook and the group admins. And that’s all you can do, too, when you recognize something shifty on Facebook. Report it, and move on.
Unless you notice someone you know, commenting on or sharing the scam post. Then you might go the extra mile and reach out to them, tell them what they’ve stepped in.
What was the scam, anyhow? It’s probably an advance payment sort of scam, where they try to collect your cash through Zelle or Cash App. If I can message with these scammers and get proof, I’ll update these details.
If you see something inappropriate, illegal, or just plain wrong on Facebook, please report it. This includes spam and scam posts, comments that are beyond the pale, and any content that has you concerned of threat or harm to someone.
Reporting Posts and Comments
Most of the time, you can report Facebook content using the 3-dots button to the upper-right of the post or comment:
After clicking the 3-dots button, you’ll have a menu with options. Click Report Post and select the best category for why you are reporting the content.
If you are reporting content from a Facebook Group, you should also send a report to the group admins. They are much more likely to act on your report.
You can also report people (accounts) on Facebook. If you think a person is not real (a bot), or misrepresenting who they are (a faker from some faraway land), go to their main profile FB page and look for the 3-dots button to the right, below their masthead photo:
You should also report a friend’s account, if you think they’ve been hacked.
Reporting Private Messages
Yes, it’s even necessary sometimes to report the PMs you receive. Harassment messages are a no-brainer, but you should also report anyone slipping into your PMs with shady offers of crypto or government tax refunds.
On a computer, it can be tricky finding the options to report FB messages. If you do not see the 3-dots button, go to www.messenger.com to view your PMs. If you float over a person on the left-hand column, you may find the 3-dots button, and that should give you the chance to report.
Also at www.messenger.com, look to the right-hand side for “Privacy & Support”. Click that to reveal an extra option to Report something.
On mobile devices, you can usually report a message by long-pressing on it. Then, look below for a 3-dots button labeled More, and that should reveal a Report option. You might also tap the ‘i’ button at the top-right, if you see it, and that will get you many options for the person who has contacted you. At the bottom of that menu, you should find Restrict, Block and Report.
What Good Does Reporting Do?
First, I can say that reporting posts to Group Admins, when possible, offers the best chance for positive change. Group Admins are people like you and me, and they often respond promptly. They usually don’t want junk or unpleasant material in the group that they volunteer to maintain.
But when you are reporting to Facebook themselves, I must say the results are likely to be disappointing. Your report will probably not reach a living human, at first. Facebook has a lot of bots and software to go over most of the reported material. And those things do not do a good job.
For example, I reported something objectionable to Facebook recently. After 3 days, they got back to me, and said they couldn’t review my report. I resubmitted it, using their options to tell them they got it wrong. After another 3 days, they got back to me to say: We removed the bad content you reported.
Hey, thanks, Facebook, but this means it was up for an extra 6 days, for all of your users to encounter. And your users are as young as 13…
Criticisms aside, Facebook supposedly responds better when many people all report the same content. So you should click that Report tool whenever you care to. Also, Facebook should respond in a more timely manner when life and limb are on the line. If you are worried about someone harming themselves or doing something unsafe, definitely report that ASAP to Facebook. And consult with your local authorities, too, if appropriate.
F.B. Purity is a one-of-a-kind browser extension that can modify Facebook to make it more of what you want. Don’t want to see sponsored posts? Like to hide posts with selfies? F. B. Purity has got you.
Free to install, F. B. Purity is an extension that lodges into your browser on any Windows, Apple or Linux computer (sorry, nothing for mobile devices yet). Once installed, F. B. Purity is fairly subtle and you’ll only see this addition at the top of your feed:
But therein lay all your options. If you click on “F.B. Purity” in that small caption, all of its options open up for you to explore and use. Frankly, the options can be a little overwhelming, but for those willing, you can go through and Hide all kinds of Facebook nonsense, like:
Questions & Polls
And there are extra features you may want to activate. For example, if you turn on “Deleted Friend Alerts,” F. B. Purity will let you know when someone has unfriended you.
After checking off all your desired options, make sure to click the small Save and Close button!
You may trust in the following and take part in the proceedings, to get your piece of the settlement:
Facebook is accused of collecting user data through outside websites, and selling it to advertisers. They allegedly did this through those Facebook Like buttons that used to appear all over the web. In doing so, Facebook may have violated privacy laws and unjustly profited from all of us.
Facebook is admitting no guilt in the matter, but they are settling. In order to put this matter to bed, they are agreeing to a $90 Million settlement. It’s somewhat of a speeding ticket to a company worth $538 Billion, but so it goes…
How to Participate
You can get your share of that settlement, as long as you qualify. Consider yourself qualified if you:
Had a Facebook account between 4/22/2010 and 9/26/2011
Visited non-Facebook websites that displayed the Facebook Like button.
Don’t remember if that was the case? Those Like buttons were everywhere back then, so it is very likely you encountered them, while reading the news or checking out personal blogs or shopping online.
I notice that the Online Claim page may not load in the presence of an ad-blocker. I guess they are tracking who visits that page! If you can’t get it to load, try disabling your ad-blocker. Or, you can right-click the link and open the page in Incognito/InPrivate mode. That should bypass any adblocker woes.
And after all of that reading & signing up & waiting… you might get a dollar or two. Sorry, but the lawyers are going to take a big bite out of that $90M before it trickles down to us. There are 240 million Facebook users in the USA. It all comes down to how many people hear about this and sign up, I suppose.
No, you are not going to win a free RV! But when you see posts about this on social media, they are so tempting. Companies with names like Camping & RV World boast about “unclaimed RVs” that they have to give away for free, and the included photos show some beautiful vehicles. But this is one of those too-good-to-be-true situations. You will not win anything. And there is a lot of harm afoot, even if you click Like on the post.
How To Spot the Scam?
This gets harder every year, as the scammers study Facebook and other platforms for ingenious ways to conceal their identities. But here are some clues:
When you visit a Business Page on Facebook, scroll down to find the Page Transparency section. Click “See All” to get the most details. This will tell you useful info, like the date that the Page was created, and possibly the country of origin. Scam pages often show a very recent date, while known trusted pages have older dates.
Regard the About section: Scam pages often have no info here, while legitimate pages will reveal a proper phone number, physical address and website. Do not trust any “tinyurl”, “bit.ly” or “google.sites” addresses!
Search on Facebook for the company in question. Take Camping World, for example, they show hundreds of thousands of Likes. Notice that the scammer’s page probably only has a handful of Likes.
The Hazards of This Scam
The first part of the scam is in the first interaction you have with it. If you click Like or Share the scam, Facebook will promote the scammy post to your friends & family, or to everyone else in your group. It will help it spread like wildfire, or a chain letter. And your endorsement will make the scam look more believable to everyone else!
Next, many of these scams steer you towards marketing websites that promise free money via CashApp. This nonsense will waste your time with survey after survey and form after form. You’ll never get the promised cash, but they will hoover up your information. And sell it to every spammer and telemarketer known to man. If you think you get a lot of spam and junk calls now, just you wait. Participating in these surveys will elevate your spam to nightmare levels!
Finally, these RV Giveaways will “select” you as a winner, and push you into Private Messaging or other non-public communication. And the scammer will prepare to deliver your winnings… but first, they want a delivery fee to be paid. Or some insurance. Maybe a “customs surcharge.” Whatever it is, they’ll make it seem like a trifle, compared with the value of the big thing you’ve just won. But if you pay that fee (through CashApp or wire xfer or gift cards), then you will never hear from them again, and you will not see any RV appear in your driveway.
For ten years now, people have been posting the following notice on Facebook:
Please don’t do that. Don’t post this or Share this if you see it. It is a hoax and it is misinformation. It accomplishes nothing.
I understand if you have privacy concerns over Facebook’s treatment of your information. Mr. Zuckerberg doesn’t have a great track record of protecting and respecting our user data. But this kind of post does not protect you or change how Facebook treats you.
Please read up about this on Snopes or other websites. When you first signed up for a free Facebook account, you agreed to a lengthy contract. You agreed to so many many things, including:
Specifically, when you share, post, or upload content that is covered by intellectual property rights on or in connection with our Products, you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, and worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivative works of your content (consistent with your privacy and application settings). This means, for example, that if you share a photo on Facebook, you give us permission to store, copy, and share it with others (again, consistent with your settings) such as service providers that support our service or other Meta Products you use. This license will end when your content is deleted from our systems.
If you really want control over what Facebook does with your data, your options are few and simple enough:
Don’t post it in the first place.
Delete your info, posts or pictures from Facebook.
Delete your whole Facebook account!
I understand that those may not be the most helpful options, and for that, I can only apologize and sympathize. Remember: If you’re using something for free, you are probably not the customer, you are the product!
UPDATE on 2/26/2023: an astute reader noticed that this tip wasn’t working and clued me in. After some experimentation, it appears that the Text Delight feature is currently broken and doesn’t function for many Facebook users.
You can type in key phrases (xoxo, best wishes, etc.) on Facebook and they will highlight and show a special effect. But once you finish your post/comment, the formatting may disappear and offer no delight. Your colored words might change to plain text.
I’m asking in various places if this is a bug to be fixed, or if this feature is going away. If I get any response, I will update this post.
You’ve seen these special effects on Facebook for some time now: certain words or phrases, like Congrats or You’ve Got This, do special things in posts and comments. As you type these secret texts on a computer (doesn’t often work in their mobile apps), Facebook colors them in and anyone may click on them later to see a special animation.
These “text delights” are harmless fun, and you should be able to use in most text entry fields on Facebook. The trick may be knowing what triggers the text delights in the first place.
Facebook doesn’t offer a master list of these text delights. And they vary from one country/language to the next. Plus, when Facebook retires an old text delight or introduces a new one, they don’t always announce it. We’re still discovering these easter eggs to this day!
If you want some idea of what text delights are out there, you can simply search the web for “Facebook text delights” or check out YouTube videos about what people have discovered. And when you go to use them, you will know if what you’ve typed will work as soon as you key it in. Text delights change color as soon as you type them into Facebook, to let you know there will be a special effect.
One last thing: you don’t have to use a text delight, if you don’t want to. Let’s say you type GG or xoxo, and Facebook colors it in as a delight. As soon as the color appears, hit your Backspace key one time, and the delight-coloring should disappear. Now you have plain text, with no special effect.
Facebook is rolling out a new tool for safeguarding your account. But not everyone will see this just yet. For now, they’re pushing this feature out to high-profile accounts and business pages with significant reach. You may see this pop-up for you if you are a politician, for example, or run a Business Page with thousands of Likes on it.
Unfortunately, when Facebook does reach out to someone about their new Protect feature, it presents as a scam. The sender’s email looks fishy and the message urges to you act soon, lest you be locked out.
If you get an email or notification about this, cooperate with it if you are comfortable doing so. If you aren’t 100% sure, you can still satisfy the Facebook Protect requirement without clicking on the email:
Open Facebook.com in your computer’s web browser.
Click the triangle button in the upper-right corner, click Settings & Privacy, click Settings.
On the left, click Security & Login, then to the right, look for Facebook Protect and click Get Started.
You cannot sign up for Facebook Protect before you are invited, so if you can’t do this now, no worries! There’s nothing to do until you get a notice that you should activate this.
Nextdoor is a social networking website with a focus on neighborhood connections and local resources. If your neighborhood isn’t already connecting through Facebook groups or other means, Nextdoor might be a useful option for doing so.
Now, if you’re already a Nextdoor user, we should go over their marketing tactics. They’re a little bit sus, in the parlance of the younger generation. To attract new users, Nextdoor commonly mails letters to people. On paper, through the USPS. These letters invite you to join up for free and try out Nextdoor.
But now here’s the sus part: These letters often drop names of people in your neighborhood. They mention your neighborhood by name, as well. They’re a little uncanny, and many people read these letters and smell a scam. There is no scam! But it sure looks sketchy…
We can’t stop Nextdoor from this marketing behavior. But we should be aware that Nextdoor may use your name or other PII on their marketing letters to others! Unless, you deliberately opt out, and here’s how to do that:
On a computer
Visit the Nextdoor website and sign in.
Click the account bubble to the upper-right, and then click Settings.
On the left, click Privacy.
Scroll down to the Invitation letters section, and turn off the toggle next to “Allow Nextdoor to mail letters on your behalf”.
In the Nextdoor app
Open the Nextdoor app and sign in.
To the lower-right, tap More.
Scroll down and tap Settings.
Tap Privacy Settings.
Scroll down to the Invitation letters section, and turn off the toggle next to “Allow Nextdoor to mail letters on your behalf”.