Will you pay for Facebook?
Are you ready to pay for Facebook? You just may. Analyst Foad Fadaghi of Telsyte, an Australian technology research firm, tells news.com.au that premium accounts are an option to increase revenues.
As I argued on Wednesday, Facebook now must answer to shareholders. Being a public company is a completely different world from life as a private company. Fadaghi also expects Facebook to make advertising more invasive, as investors demand better performance. Ain't that grand?
Floating the option to charge for Facebook has to be on the table. The site needs new revenue streams. Regardless, the option is ridiculous and a non-starter. The whole concept of the social network itself prevents such an arrangement from ever being effective.
You are the Key to Facebook's Success
Social networks are built upon the hope that the user will divulge personal information. This personal information is used to make those connections, and create the social aspect of the service. Without this, a profile is nothing more than a glorified personal web page.
Yes, there are some social-like services -- Match.com for example -- but these exist for a purpose. You pay Match.com for the ability of the site to match you with the love of your life. There is a reason for the charge because it is something you may not be able to do yourself.
This is why LinkedIn attempted to monetize its own social network. While very much like the more consumer-focused sites, at heart LinkedIn is still a service aimed at connecting you with like-minded professionals. Even so, the features above and beyond a free account are all but worthless to me.
Explain what service Facebook offers the user, other than the ability to connect with friends and/or brands, groups, etc. that interest you? Charging for this is akin to paying for your friends. That is not going to fly.
Paying for Privacy? No thanks
Fadaghi's comments generated heated discussion here in the newsroom. Someone half-joked that a premium Facebook account could provide a service where users' account information isn't disclosed or surfaced. You pay for privacy. That's a talking point for the anti-Facebook crowd -- they're invading our privacy!
If that's the hook for such a premium account, I'll laugh. Here's a quick way to solve that: don't use Facebook. Despite what some of us may think, you can survive life without it. Paying to ensure my privacy is a ridiculous argument, because it is my information and not Facebook's. My personal details are what makes the site click. Without that, Facebook is nothing.
To be fair, I must say that Fadaghi does state the obvious: "The challenge is companies such Google+ will provide similar services, but are likely not to charge because they are less powerful in the social networking space. As long as there is competition, social networking sites will remain free to consumers". At least he roundabout sees the insanity of charging for a social network somewhat.
Maybe this argument is a moot point, then. Whether or not it happens though, it needs to be shot down by the socially networked masses. These sites need to understand that this is our information, and we are under no obligation to continue to allow them to profit from it.
I can live without social networking, I did for many years and can do it again. If this is the next big thing in the industry, you can count me out.