Facebook Paid Messaging – Celebrity Culture and Sneaky Tricks

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At the end of 2012, Facebook launched a new tool in the USA enabling users to send messages directly to the inbox of non-friends by paying a fee.  Normally messages to non-friends get directed automatically to the ‘Other’ folder which may well get overlooked by the recipient.  This system is now being trialed in 36 countries.

The media have taken up the story with enthusiasm and have focused on how this enables people to send messages to the inbox of their favorite celebrities.  In a celebrity obsessed culture this idea may appeal to many – particularly those from the younger crowd who just want to connect with someone famous – anyone really, just so long as they are famous

However Facebook users who wish to get the attention of their fav celeb may have to mull over the odds – the more popular the person, the more they pay to get their message into that coveted inbox.  The price of celebrity messaging depends on how famous the celebrity is – measured by the number of followers the celebrity has on Facebook and how many paid messages they have received.

In the UK, rates for specific celebrities are still being tested in selected markets and are not set in stone, but one imagines that a few of the lovvies of the celebrity world will be unimpressed if their messaging rates are ridiculously cheap.  Here are a few examples of UK message rates:

  • Snoop Dogg, rapper and Salman Rushdie, author – around £10 per message
  • Nick Hornby, author – around 70p per message

Facebook should be making a nice little profit from this as they will be keeping all the revenue for themselves – the celebrities won’t receive a dime.  For some it’s a hard pill to swallow when Facebook has always stuck to its guns and stated that ‘Facebook is free and always will be’…. clearly until now that is.

Even if you applaud Facebook for creating a new opportunity to bring in more income, think a little harder about the implications – paid messaging is a bit of a sneaky trick for the average Joe.  It means that people and companies can simply override your privacy settings and start to send you messages directly to your inbox so long as they pay up to Facebook.

Facebook insists that this initiative prevents people from being bombarded with messages from strangers and will facilitate the delivery of only relevant messages.  However with this new tool, anyone who is prepared to pay the fee can message anyone outside of their circle of friends.   And that sounds like a very sneaky trick to me.