When Facebook’s IPO didn’t go as smoothly as planned, naysayers like Gizmodo predicted the company would start charging users.Jest even made a hilarious commercial parody, describing all the ways the company could charge for services like “Facebook Gold” and “Facebook Platinum.”
But such a move would probably be more disastrous for Facebook than even its IPO was.
As NPR’s Chana Joffe-Walt reports, a similar thing happened 70 years ago when Red Cross charged soldiers for doughnuts and coffee. To this day, the veterans haven’t forgiven them.
“We all felt the same, it was a disgrace,” said Major William B. Harris. “I still remember very vividly and I’m 93-years-old.”
But the real issue wasn’t the price, said University of Pennsylvania business professor Uri Simonsohn, it was that the relationship had changed. Whereas before people were operating under the premise that the item was free, or a token of gratitude, suddenly they felt they were being ripped off.
It’s like getting a bad deal when you thought you had it for free.
And let’s face it, no one wants to get ripped off by Facebook.