"Hello everyone, it seems that all the warnings were real, facebook use will cost money. If you send this string to 18 different people from your list, your icon will be blue and it will be free for you." Surely you've seen that scam going around Facebook for years ... but now there might be something to the idea. The social network has, since 2008, said "It's free and always will be" on its signup page, right underneath the words "Create an account." The new language since around Aug. 7, as noted by Business Insider: "It's quick and easy." An official Facebook help page says the site still has no plans to charge its users a fee, and a rep for the company says the same in response to questions about the new text. So what's the deal?
A cyber law professor shares his theory with USA Today: It reflects public perception. "The public no longer sees Facebook as 'free'—that rings hollow now," he says, pointing to Facebook's tracking of users and the personalized ads it delivers. A lawyer and digital law expert tells Business Insider the slogan change could have been sparked by the European Parliament's May directive that recognizes data exchange as a form of payment. Speaking of Facebook controversies, Reuters reports that 83 scholars working with the social network to research how it impacts democracy said Tuesday they might quit the project because Facebook is not making the full set of necessary data available to them. (More Facebook stories.)