The business model of social networks like Facebook has traditionally been based on advertising, not fees. Users don't have to pay anything, but they get to see ads. The big compromise they make is that Facebook systematically evaluates their data to show them tailored advertising.

Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook's parent company Meta, has often defended this approach, arguing it is in the interest of users. He was certainly in the interest of his company, whose advertising revenues grew rapidly year after year. The flip side was data scandals, which often put the internet giant on the defensive. So far, however, they have not caused Zuckerberg to shake up his model.

It is therefore all the more remarkable that Meta is now introducing a paid service. For a monthly fee, users can enjoy certain services, including blue tick verification of their identity or better customer support.

The group describes this as a test that is initially aimed at certain user groups such as influencers, but also says that in the long run, he wants to develop a fee-based service that is attractive to all users.

This is a new strategic direction, and the company is taking it at a time when it is under pressure to act. The advertising business has weakened dramatically, not only because of the difficult economic environment, but also because the company has been shackled by stricter rules on Apple devices when collecting user data.

In the midst of this changed situation, it makes sense to look for new sources of income – even if Zuckerberg has often said that there will always be a free version of Facebook.