A new paid feature that Facebook has been fiddling with for the past days or so has sparked a flurry of mixed reactions from users. In what was first assumed to be a scam, the feature charges Facebook members $2 to underscore important posts, making them more prominent and consequently more visible on the social networking site. A Facebook user in Whangarei, New Zealand stumbled on the feature, wherein he was given the choice to highlight his status updates and pictures for a fee.
It turned out Facebook has been carrying out these trials to assess a new feature, and tests are taking place in New Zealand. In a statement, Facebook spokeswoman Mia Garlick confirms to trials on the “new feature”, saying that the test is being done to verify whether users will be interested in this type of paid-sharing. She also says that Facebook is constantly “testing new features across the site.”
Garlick is quick to clarify, however, that the trials include testing the feature at various price points. In fact, the feature may even be offered for free. While the trials are ongoing, users reserve the option to pay or shell out nothing.
The news elicited a bunch of reactions from different folks, all of them Facebook users. Emil Protalinksi of ZDNet called the latest feature “by far the worst one yet”, considering that Facebook has already tried several new features across the site these past years. He argues that Facebook pages – and not Facebook profiles – are the ones suitable for advertising.
On the flip side, research director Foad Fadaghi over at Telsyte thinks the experiment could be worth a run. According to him, the relevance of the highlighted posts is still worth noting. And the feature may benefit start-up or small business owners who are using Facebook, as the added visibility can help them promote products and “generate additional interest.”