Ever post something incredibly witty on Facebook or link to an event that you really want all your friends to see? If you’ve answered yes and don’t mind paying for the privilege, then you might be interested to hear that the site is testing out a new feature that allows you to highlight important posts for a small fee.
Stuff.co.nz has discovered that Facebook is testing out this service, and considering charging $2 for users to highlight important status updates and photo posts so that they’ll be more visible on the news feeds of friends. The feature was originally discovered by a user based in Whangarei, New Zealand who initially assumed that the option might be a scam.
However, Facebook spokeswoman Mia Garlick confirmed to Stuff that it was a new feature that the company was testing out. She said: “We’re constantly testing new features across the site. This particular test is simply to gauge people’s interest in this method of sharing with their friends.”
Facebook’s trail will offer the service at a range of different prices, such as offering the service for $2 one day and for free on another day, as the company gauges interest. If the feature does get rolled out, it’s very likely that Facebook will charge for the privilege.
The main point that Facebook will emphasise is that this feature is completely optional. It’s a smart idea as it gives the company another source of revenue – exactly how much revenue it will generate is another story – and it panders to those who really want their posts to be seen, be it for genuine reasons or for vanity. Apparently highlighted posts will be marked with a yellow background so that they will stand out more, but where it will appear in the news feed is unknown. Chances are it won’t be at the top as Facebook is reserving that space for sponsored stories so our guess is that it will be the third or fourth post.
When you consider there’s close to 900 million users worldwide and that there’s always friends who are promoting causes for themselves or for others, chances are there’ll be quite a few who will jump at the opportunity to highlight their posts. If this feature is released and it grows in popularity, it could potentially messing up the algorithm and potentially causing problems for users.
Say, for example, you’re friends with someone on the site but have hidden their posts from your feed, will it mean their posts will then be visible if they pay to highlight them? Or perhaps more worryingly for Facebook, could brands and businesses try advertise through persona highlighted posts instead of advertising through the normal means.
The latter situation could be unlikely as it seems to be only status updates and photos that can be highlighted and unless you have a lot of friends, viewing will be limited, but that doesn’t mean that it’s people won’t find a way to take advantage of it. It’s possible that this mightn’t even see the light of day, but considering Facebook’s upcoming IPO and the pressure to generate further revenue, it’d be surprising if it didn’t go ahead with this.