Facebook weighs ad-free subscription service after data scandal

Facebook may soon become a bit more like Netflix.

Mark Zuckerberg’s social network is weighing a move to launch a second version of its 2 billion-plus-user community — one that will be ad-free but come with a monthly subscription fee, just like the world’s No. 1 video streamer.

Facebook has been conducting market research in recent weeks to determine whether an ad-free version would spur more people to join the social network, according to a report Friday.

The market research comes as Facebook has come under fire recently for allowing users’ private data to be shared with Cambridge Analytica, a political research firm.

Facebook has studied such a subscription model in the past — and rejected it, according to Bloomberg, which first reported on the latest market research effort.

There is no guarantee Facebook will adopt such a second operating model, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, however, there is more internal momentum to pursue it, according to the report.

Facebook declined to comment to Bloomberg on the matter.

In reporting first-quarter results on April 25, Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive officer, and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg talked about the benefits of its ad-supported network.

The current model allows Facebook to reach the most people, at every income level, they said.
But the two conceded there are other business models.

“We certainly thought about lots of other forms of monetization including subscriptions, and we’ll always continue to consider everything,” Sandberg said then.

During his congressional testimony last month, Zuckerberg left the door open for a subscription option, Bloomberg reported. “There will always be a version of Facebook that is free,’’ he said.

This story originally appeared in the New York Post.