Facebook's Testing A Feature That Charges You To Send Messages To Friends

mark zuckerberg facebookNow, I’ll do anything for money.

Photo: By Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Facebook is casting around for new sources of revenue, Geoffrey Fowler and Shayndi Raice of the Wall Street Journal report.One new feature the company is testing is called “Highlight.”

Currently live in New Zealand, Highlight allows you to pay up to NZ$2 (~$1.50 US) to be sure that your friends see a post. It’s a per-post charge.

(Without this, your post might get pushed down your friends’ news feeds before they see it. Or Facebook’s algorithms might not put it in your friends’ feeds at all.)

This service is similar to the “Reach Generator” feature that the company recently began offering to brands to make sure that most of their “fans” saw their posts.

We understand that social-media posts flow like water and that it’s easy for posts to be missed. We also understand that Facebook is eager to generate revenue.

But this idea seems preposterous.

If you want to be certain that your friends see something you have to say, why not just send them an email? Because charging you to ensure that your friends see your posts seems just like Facebook trying to charge you $1.50 per email.

Doesn’t it?

We realise email is for dinosaurs (like us). But come on. $1.50 per post? That’s 5X more than the cost of a physical letter!

(And imagine how annoying this could be for your friends. Now, they can happily ignore everything you say, and you’re none the wiser. With “Highlight,” they’ll be forced to acknowledge that they saw your post and didn’t respond to it!)

Nor is “Highlight” the only revenue-generating feature Facebook is testing or rolling out. There’s the App Store clone called App centre. There’s the Dropbox clone for file sharing. And so on.

At Facebook’s IPO price, investors are implicitly counting on the company developing vast new revenue streams. And it seems as if Facebook knows that and is trying to provide that.

But we can’t imagine paying Facebook $1.50 to deliver a message.

UPDATE: Neowin has some screenshots of Highlight here. The company is apparently testing different price points.

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