Social media hoaxes are the 24-hour colds of the internet. You go to sleep with your Facebook feed healthy and hale, only to wake up and find it absolutely festooned (as the screenshot above demonstrates) with paranoid text posts claiming that Facebook will soon be charging its users to keep their content private.
Your feed feels febrile and pockmarked with dumb posts. The feed is dizzy and confused about what's real and what isn't. People are having hallucinatory and uninformed arguments in the comments about rights and privacy and greed. Your feed rolls around in its own flop sweat until you give up and go to bed early, hoping this doesn't become a long-term thing. And then you wake up the next day feeling absolutely fine, wondering what the hell just happened.
So it was with the latest hoax scare that just went around on Facebook. There are two major Facebook hoaxes that seem to crop back up on a regular basis, like a flare up of an illness long thought cured, when it is really just dormant. The first stems from the idea of Facebook suddenly deciding that it owns all the content that has been uploaded to the website, which is silly, and tries to counter it with a text in legalese claiming copyright on one's own work, which is even sillier (and legally dubious).
The second, which seems to be the cause and subject of the latest hoax outbreak, is a claim (see below) that Facebook will now be charging money for a subscription to keep your profile and information set to private, unless you post the text of the very status spreading the information. It's the modern version of a chain letter, and it seems to have gotten the best of a lot of people.
Internet sleuths of record Snopes.com has a thorough debunking of both claims, as do the many, many news stories (including this one. Meta!) covering it. The hoaxes have been around since at least 2011, and have appeared multiple times since then.
The persistence of these types of rumors and hoaxes on social media are deeply predictable in the same way the gullibility of even smart, thoughtful people is predictable. It plays on a lot of human foibles: The need to believe in conspiracies in order to make sense of the world, the belief that large corporations have only their own interests at heart (which they do, but not to the point where they'd screw over their own customer base so thoroughly as these rumors suggest), to the "It's better to be safe than sorry" attitude that lends the hoaxes just enough credence to get people to post them.
But they simply aren't true. And now that they've once again been thoroughly covered and debunked, we can restart the countdown timer until they appear again in a year or two.