Facebook Wants You to Pay to Spam Your Own Friends—When Will It End?

It seems like Facebook has really been gearing up for their big IPO that's supposed to happen on Friday, because if there's one thing they want investors to believe, it's that they know how to make money. For the social networking giant, turning a profit is going to be more important than making users happy, and it's going to be a delicate balance seeing if they can accomplish one goal without sacrificing the other.

Facebook's latest cash-milking scheme, which they started testing this week in New Zealand, is the ability for users to pay to promote their own posts. That's right, if you're worried that your latest status isn't being enjoyed by quite enough of your friends, Facebook wants you to be able to increase the odds that they see it. For a fee, of course.

Anyone else wondering if that Like button is going to be replaced by a Ka-ching! soon?

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In a nutshell, the potential new "Highlight" feature lets you fork over a couple bucks to make your post more visible to your Facebook friends. A typical News Feed story, on average, reaches just 12 percent of your network, and Highlight would let you improve those chances.

Here's a look at the new feature:

The problem with this, like so many of Facebook's profit-centric changes, is that it bypasses the social aspect of sharing. Instead of an update being shared because it's interesting or exciting or worthy of celebration, it'll get seen because someone paid for that to happen—so it's basically an advertisement. Between promoted pages, those annoying "So-and-so read a horribly gruesome article on Yahoo!" links, and ads, it seems like eventually we're all going to stop listening.

Facebook's gambling otherwise, though. With an astonishing 526 million users who check into Facebook on a daily basis, 3.2 billion "likes" and comments a day, 300 million photos uploaded per day, and 125 billion friendships, the company needs to prove that they're not just about the user numbers—they've got to be about record-breaking revenue, too. Offering a fairly simple new feature that has the potential to bring in some big bucks, well, that's a no-brainer.

Even if it caters to spammers and drags down the user experience for the rest of us.

What do you think about the idea of Facebook users being able to pay to get their posts seen?


Image via Facebook

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