Thursday, June 4, 2009

Facebook's Payment

This morning I opened up my Facebook account and noticed that I was invited to a new group named "We Will Not Pay For Facebook!" The tagline said that we needed to get as many users to join the group as possible. This leaves me with three questions:

1. Why do people believe that Facebook will begin charging?
2. Why are people so adamant against paying for it?
3. Why do people think a Facebook group to protest Facebook charges would work?

First off, there was a rumor that circulated MySpace a few years ago. It talked about MySpace deleting accounts of people who didn't respond to some chain post, or of people who weren't willing to pay for the service. MySpace makes their money from advertising, and I'm certain that you've seen ads on Facebook as well. The way that you sell advertising on the Internet (this is one of my areas of expertise) is to increase the amount of unique users that you have, and increase the amount of overall page views that you have every month. Cutting your user base in half (or worse) by choosing to delete people randomly (as was the MySpace rumor), or forcing everyone to begin paying or suffer deletion (per the new Facebook rumor) would destroy revenue, and likely cause one of these social networking sites to die off. MySpace, you will recall, was king before Facebook seemed like the better place to go. Another social networking site will pop up eventually, and Facebook will be in for a fight - why would it chase off members prematurely?

I also can't understand why people are so opposed to paying for Facebook? To be honest, I would be willing to plunk down $10 a year, or some other similar number, to use the service if it really came to that. Facebook has put me back in touch with people that I haven't seen in years, enables me to maintain an easy contact with the youth group that I run via our Facebook group, allows my friends and I to swap photos, and has provided a lot of fantastically entertaining games for me to procrastinate with. There are many, many people addicted to the Gang Wars, Pet Pupz and Dragon Wars games, alone... with so many other applications that people use. These games would generally cost $30-40 in the store, or require some sort of online fee, or some sort of investment even three years ago. Now, you can play them for free. There is a strange sense of entitlement from people who use a free service. They expect those who created and maintain the service to do so, and make improvements, indefinitely without making a profit. Why? Arrogance, I suppose. Foolishness, possibly. Whatever it is, no one seems to think that through. If your boss turned to you today and said, "I absolutely refuse to pay you any more, but you damned well better not start slacking off, I expect you to continue performing at your highest level," how long would you stick around?

The last thing that cracks me up is the concept that a Facebook group could protest Facebook charging if they decided to do so. Let me get this straight: Facebook (in this theory) has decided that, for the good of it's business, the economic model must include a charge for its services. It cites various reasons for why they feel Facebook is worth charging for. To protest this, instead of leaving the site to prove that you could go elsewhere any time you like, you start or join a group on Facebook enabling you to swap messages and photos and bulletins, and stage a protest utilizing several of Facebook's features. That's like protesting a price hike at Starbucks by sitting around and drinking their coffee, sitting in their shop and discussing how unfair it is.

At the end of the day, I simply wish that people would use some common sense.

1 comment:

  1. Even better is the "Facebook Gold Account" group - you join, invite 50 members, and get a "GOLD ACCOUNT" badge on your profile page.