There will always be a version of Facebook that users can access without paying, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in congressional testimony on Tuesday. But his phrasing suggests the company has at least considered a paid version.
"Yes, there will always be a version of Facebook that is free," Zuckerberg said during a joint hearing of the U.S. Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees.
Zuckerberg testified in Congress on Tuesday in the first of two hearings over Facebook's data privacy issues. The company is facing questions following reports data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica improperly gained access to the personal data of as many as 87 million Facebook users through a quiz app.
In an interview with "Today," Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said allowing Facebook users to opt out of sharing their information with advertisers would require a paid model— but didn't say that any such change was forthcoming. Zuckerberg did not deny the company was looking at a paid options, but emphasized the company always wants to offer a service accessible to everyone.
"I think what Sheryl was saying is in order to not run ads at all we would need some sort of business model," he said. "To be clear, we don't offer an option today for people to pay to not show ads. We think offering people an ad-supported service is the most aligned with our mission of trying to connect everyone in the world, because we want to offer a free service that everyone can afford. That's the only way we can reach billions of people."
When asked how Facebook funds its free platform, Zuckerberg said the company relies on advertising.
"Senator, we run ads," he said.
Shares were up 5 percent during Zuckerberg's testimony.
Note: NBC's "Today" and CNBC share parent company NBCUniversal.