Facebook, like many other companies, is constantly looking for new ways to get you to store your credit card information on file with them. Why? Because once it’s stored, they believe you’ll be more likely to spend more money with them. After all, it’s a lot easier to push a few buttons and send gifts to your friends or pay for credits to your favorite game than it is to input your information at another location. Their latest scheme involves charging users to send messages to people outside their friend list.
Say you have a long-lost friend that you think you just found on Facebook. You want to send that person a message first to make sure they are who you think they are. After all, basic Facebook security measures include be selective in who you choose to friend. Now, in order to find out if said person really is that great long-lost friend, Facebook may charge you a dollar for the privilege of using their service to reconnect.
Technically, you can still send the message for free, but if you’re not friends with the person, your message will end up in their “other” folder- a place where messages go to die on Facebook. They won’t receive notification of your message, and there is a good chance they don’t even realize they have such a folder. Paying the $1 guarantees that your message will end up in their regular inbox, so they’ll actually see it.
If it seems ludicrous, consider all the other things that Facebook is now charging you for. Personal users can pay money to make sure their status updates actually show up in their friend’s news feeds. The average charge is $7 per status update. Facebook page owners have it much worse. Companies and bloggers who worked hard to build a huge following on Facebook are incredibly frustrated to find that only about 1% of their fans actually get to see their content. Unless, of course, the owners want to pay fees to get their messages out to their fans.
The whole issue of paying to use the features that Facebook is best known for is kind of funny, considering the rumors going around over the last few years that Facebook would begin charging for its services. Back then, Facebook assured users that it had no intention of going to a subscription-based service. Now, many users are wishing that they would charge something as simple as a subscription fee’ It would be a lot less expensive than paying $1 per message every time you want to plan a family reunion, $7 every time you want all your friends to actually see an important update, and hundreds of dollars a day to reach every one of your fans.
Has Facebook jumped the shark with this last stunt? Some would say they jumped it long ago. With so many other options available, it seems ludicrous to think that anyone would actually pay to use Facebook, but then again, people do get used to certain networks and may go for anything to maintain their routine. Time will tell.