Facebook is testing a new posting function, called Highlight, in which users will pay to make sure everyone sees their status update, The Next Web reported.
Facebook chose New Zealand as the first country in which to test the paid-for spotlight. According to Stuff.co.nz, Users recently found that when they went to update their statuses, a small window popped up, asking them if they wanted to pay NZ$1.80 (US$1.42) to highlight important posts to make sure their friends would see it.
The users in New Zealand first thought the whole thing was a prank, but through a Facebook spokesperson’s confirmation to BBC, they soon discovered it was true. “We’re constantly testing new features across the site,” the spokesperson stated. “This particular test is simply to gauge people’s interest in this method of sharing with their friends.”
Highlight is a way for Facebook to test the waters to see whether people would pay for special features, CNET reported. Aiming to attract IPO investors, Facebook has tried different ways to show its potential to boost its revenue.
Although Facebook might like to make money off users’ updates, it is a controversial move that may not go over well with users.
“Facebook is playing with fire here,” Josh Constine wrote for TechCrunch, “The service has always been free for users, and a pay-for-popularity feature could be a huge turn off, especially to its younger and less financially equipped users who couldn’t afford such narcissism.”
In addition, John Koetsier, of Venture Beat, listed three main reasons that may be problematic in asking users for money to make their status messages more conspicuous: noise, conflict of interest and counter to the company’s social philosophy.
“Facebook was built to connect friends, help them share updates, and enable them to build and extend meaningful relationships. Making people pay for the privilege now seems to fly in the face of that mission,” he wrote.
“On Facebook, what’s supposed to matter is how interesting your posts are, not how deep your wallet is,” Constine underscored.
Image: Digital Trends