PROTIP: Press 'i' to view the image gallery, 'v' to view the video gallery, or 'r' to view a random entry.
Gold Membership Trolling, also known as “Gold Account Trolling”, is an online prank that involves posting a fabricated image to raise the false notion that a paid account is required to view the real image. This method of trolling is most often found on image boards, discussion forums and social networks.
On December 6th, 2007, 4chan received a large influx of traffic after a post titled “Top 100 Funny Pics From 4chan (NSFW)” reached the front page of the social news aggregator Digg. The same day, moot re-skinned 4chan to appear more “web 2.0” as a possible response to the incoming Digg traffic. 4chan users responded to the influx of new members by posting images that read “this image requires a 4chan gold account”.
“On January 1, 2008, 4chan will introduce user accounts. Each user will have a unique name, and will be required to supply a working email address. Also, in an attempt to keep bandwidth at a manageable level, users will be limited to 15 posts per day unless they purchase a 4chan Gold account to allow unlimited posting.” So, have you guys preordered your accounts yet?"
The earliest known instance of Facebook gold account trolling comes from an Askville post from March of 2009 that asked “What are the advantages of a facebook gold account?” In February of 2010, Facebook updated its user interface making several changes to the navigation bar and notifications. Immediately afterward, Facebook gold account trolling saw a significant resurgence and several websites posted about the prank including Hoax-Slayer and the Daily Bloggr.
In September of 2011, rumors began circulating that Facebook would soon begin to charging to use the service immediately following an update to the site’s News Feed. According to the International Business Times, Facebook responded by publicly denying the claims.
After the changes rolled out at last week’s F8 conference led to more false rumors, Facebook responded Monday on its official page: “A rumor on the Internet caught our attention. We have no plans to charge for Facebook. It’s free and always will be.”
Soon after, Facebook gold account images saw a major resurgence in popularity and screenshots of comment threads were posted to sites like Reddit. In addition to posting the fake gold account image, Facebook users would often reply with the copypasta “[Comment only available for Facebook® Gold™ account holders]” to play along with the joke. There are numerous Facebook pages associated with gold accounts, and the top group has 880 members as of September 28th, 2011.
The earliest known Tumblr gold account image was posted user mrpotatoes on June 28th, 2011. The fake images are often reblogged by other users who add a comment pretending to be able to see a photograph of some kind.
Search queries for “4chan gold account” picked up in December of 2007, the same month the archived 4chan gold account thread was posted. Search queries for “facebook gold account” had their largest spike in February of 2010, the same month Facebook updated their user interface.
Eddit On Everything – Facebook Makes New Layout Changes in February 2010