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Mark Zuckerberg: “There will always be a version of Facebook that is free”

Today during Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before the Senate, the Facebook CEO reiterated that “there will always be a version of Facebook that is free.”

In the midst of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which the user data of up to 87 million people was sold by a third-party developer to Trump Campaign-linked firm Cambridge Analytica, there has been talk of Facebook potentially adding a subscription layer.

The scandal has brought to light the heart of a problem that many have been well aware of: if you’re not buying a product, you are the product.

Last week, when asked if there might be a way for users to opt out of being targeted for ads, Sandberg responded saying they’d have to pay for it.

“We have different forms of opt-out,” Sandberg replied. “We don’t have an opt-out at the highest level. That would be a paid product.”

Our own Josh Constine made an argument that ad-free subscriptions could save Facebook. And while there’s no word on an ad-free subscription, Zuckerberg did at least leave room for it in the future, noting that there will always be a version of Facebook that is free.

“How do you sustain a business model in which users don’t pay for your service?” Senator Orrin Hatch asked Zuckerberg.

“Senator, we run ads.”

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