BOSTON (CBS) – When you log into Facebook, you see their slogan “It’s free and it always will be.”
But a new fee based service is causing some concerns for consumers about whether that will remain the case.
There is always an endless stream of status updates and photos when a Facebook user gets to their news feed. Getting a post to stand out in this environment can be tough.
Users are now getting the option of hitting “Promote” when they create a post. Selecting “Promote” launches your post to the top of all your friends’ news feeds.
This new privilege isn’t free.
Social media consultant Patrick O’Malley explained, “If you post something on Facebook, your friends may or may not see it because it may just get lost in all the other posts that they have. So if you want to remain at the top, you can pay Facebook a $7 fee and they will insure that your post stays at the top.”
Paying to use Facebook troubles critics who say this violates the spirit of social media and will create a two-tier system of users.
“Those that can afford $7 each time they post something to Facebook get better influence and better reach than those who can’t,” said David Gerzof Richard, a media consultant and professor.
Popular sites like Twitter and LinkedIn have also started introducing various pay-to-play options. It’s about the bottom line. They’re all trying to figure out how to make money.
O’Malley said this could start a trend of more fees for social media sites.
He says, “Facebook has got a lot of opportunities to make money, and they lost a lot of money when the stock price dropped.”
There are now a billion Facebook users. The ones we spoke with didn’t express any interest in paying for anything on the site.
Gerzof Richard doesn’t think this change will cause people to abandon the site, however.
“It’s really difficult for anyone to say, ‘That’s it, I am now off of Facebook’, because it has become the standard for staying connected.”