We reported back in January that Facebook was testing out a new messaging system which would allow its users to send messages directly to another user’s inbox, one who is not in their connections, for $1, $5 or $15. The price was exorbitantly high for some celebrities. Those wishing to send a message directly to Facebook supremo Mark Zuckerberg’s inbox had to part with $100 per single message. At the time Facebook said that they were testing various price points so as to figure out what works best to filter out spam. As of now the $100 fee option has been pulled.
Facebook users in the UK can now make use of this service as well, charging users as much as £10 to send messages to strangers and celebrities. The charge is determined by how popular an individual is. The highest tier includes Tom Daley and Micheal Rosen, they can be messaged for £10.68. The second tier includes Salman Rushdie and famous American rapper Snoop Dogg/Lion, what have you. Users can message second tier celebrities for £10.08. The “standard” rate to send a message to someone outside a user’s friend circle in 71p, some British personalities such as Miranda Hart, Laura Trott, Jeremy Hunt, Robert Peston, Bill Bailey and Cressida Bonas can be messaged for this rate as well. Only a limited amount of paid messages can be received by a user, though the number has not been revealed as yet.
Let it be clear that the charge is for sending a message directly to a stranger’s inbox. If a user does not want to pay the charge, he or she can still send them a message but it will end up in the Other folder, which is obviously less visible than the inbox. Let it also be clear that Facebook keeps all of the money that it charges users for sending such messages, its not like popular Facebook users are generating revenue from their following. This has lead to widespread criticism of Facebook, which boasts that the service is free and will always be free. Granted that this is a new revenue stream for the company, fake accounts of celebrities do exist on the network, and if all the algorithm does is take in account its popularity, fans could end up paying for messages that don’t reach celebrities or whosoever manages their social networks. There reportedly are two fake accounts of Ed Sheeran, a popular music star, that can be messaged for £10.68.
Facebook says that the system of paying to message non-friends in their inbox has been designed to prevent spam, and that sometimes a user might want to hear from outside their social circle. What’s your take on this service? Do you believe this service will truly benefit users or is Facebook just developing another revenue stream for it, which offers no substantial value to its over 1 billion users?