As if stealing our photos and trying to sell them to advertisers via its alter-ego Instagram wasn’t enough, Facebook has taken its relentless pursuit of profits to even more extreme levels – asking certain users to pay to send messages to ‘non-friends’ and ‘ensure’ they don’t end up being labeled as spam.
Facebook is reported to be testing out its latest money-grabbing venture among certain US users, charging them $1 a time to send out ‘VIP’ messages that are guaranteed to land straight at the top of the intended recipient’s inbox.
So far, the scheme is only available to individual users of Facebook – not companies – so we won’t have to worry about being spammed by messages lauding the benefits of this and that product just yet.
Indeed, Facebook is masking its latest money-grab as a kind of anti-spam measure, saying that users will now be able to adjust their privacy settings to the strictest level to prevent spam, whilst being reassured that if anyone has a genuine reason to contact them, their message will still get through.
From the official Facebook blog:
“This test is designed to address situations where neither social nor algorithmic signals are sufficient. For example, if you want to send a message to someone you heard speak at an event but are not friends with, or if you want to message someone about a job opportunity, you can use this feature to reach their Inbox. For the receiver, this test allows them to hear from people who have an important message to send them.”
Does Facebook really think that all of its users are imbeciles? Does its arrogance know no bounds?
Just days after it tried to sell off Instagram users’ photos to advertisers without any form of compensation – a move it later denied, insulting our intelligence by saying we were ‘confused’ by the new wording in its terms of service – Facebook is now effectively asking its users to pay to communicate with one another, ‘hinting’ that your messages could well end up being labeled ‘spam’ and ignored if you decide not to cough up.
The world’s number one social media site is rapidly transforming into the world’s most anti-social website.
Sure, we all welcome genuine efforts to reduce the amount of spam being funneled at us, but this latest move is anything but that. What Facebook is doing is not helping anyone, despite dressing it up as that. All Facebook wants is the money, but it could very well shoot itself in the foot and force people to seek different ways of communicating. After all, Facebook doesn’t exactly have the best reputation around – if it ever dared to ask me if I wanted to pay a fee to send a message, I can guarantee that my response would not be a very polite one, and I’m sure that MANY other users would feel exactly the same way.
What’s even worse is that this new ‘feature’ would seem to have lots of potential for abuse. Facebook gives us the option to adjust our message settings so that we don’t have to see messages from non-friends. But given that we’re only offered two settings (basic and strict, neither of which guarantee we won’t receive any unwanted communications), it would appear that users now have the option to pay to override our spam filter and ensure that their messages are seen every single time. For sure, the relatively small fee won’t do a thing to dissuade the most obsessive of stalkers and weirdos out there.