Facebook announced recently that users will soon be charged to contact people who are not within their existing friendship circle. Interestingly, the fee charged will depend on the popularity of the person who is being contacted. So, popular celebrities will be far more expensive to contact over everyday people.
Facebook have apparently developed a ‘secret fame algorithm’ to determine the fee and this takes into account popularity and influence. Reports are that users are already being charged up to 10 pounds in the UK to contact their favourite celebs such as rapper Snoop Dogg (Lion).
Currently this change is being rolled out in beta and will only go ahead if feedback is positive. I do wonder how the public will react to such a change. After all – the initial appeal with Facebook is that it’s a free platform that encourages social interaction. As a result, I fail to see how Zuckerberg can live up to his original promise by demanding payment for interaction:
“Facebook was built to accomplish a social mission – to make the world more open and connected.”
If Facebook starts to charge users to connect with other users (regardless of influence or status) this brings into question the entire Facebook company mission.
According to Facebook, such a change has been launched to protect the people, rather than restrict them. Facebook believe that this new change will put a stop to overwhelming numbers of spam messages and released the following statement:
“The system of paying to message non-friends in their inbox is to prevent spam while acknowledging that sometimes you want to hear from people outside your immediate social circle. We are testing a number of price points in the UK and other countries to establish the optimal fee that signals importance.”
I guess only time will tell with this one, although something tells me the feedback from users will be anything but positive!