‘Pay to Play’ comes to Facebook as it starts charging users


Now that I have your attention, the headline above is true. Paying to be popular has come to Facebook, the world’s largest social media platform.

With over 900 million members worldwide, the social networking giant has begun offering users a chance to be better noticed by their friends by testing a “pay-to-be-popular” option.

While “signing up will always be free,” has always been the Facebook motto, spotlighting your status now comes at a price in New Zealand as some users are being prompted with “Highlight” feature costing up to $2 when entering their status update.

The key phrase here: “Signing up” will always be free. Being “highlighted” to your friends comes at a price.

Recent studies show that only 12 percent of a Facebook user’s friends see the average status update. The Highlight feature promises to make a user’s post more prominent by allowing it to appear higher in the news feeds of friends as well as appearing in the news feeds of more friends.

The trial run is being quietly carried out on Facebook’s 1.4 million New Zealand users as a test to determine whether or not they are interested in the feature and whether they would be willing to spotlight themselves among friends for a price.

Originally reported in New Zealand’s Stuff magazine, the new feature was initially suspected to be a scam. However, it has been confirmed as a genuine feature by Facebook.

“We’re constantly testing new features across Facebook,” said Mia Garlick, a spokesperson at Facebook. “This particular test is simply to gauge people’s interest in this method of sharing among their friends.”

The test includes several different methods of spotlighting a Facebook user. While some highlighted posts are very inexpensive, others cost up to $2 each. Payment can be made instantly via PayPal or credit card.

In the latest of a sequence of money-making efforts by Facebook, test participants will have the option to “highlight” a post after submitting it. Friends will then see the word “highlighted” under the post.

Based upon the need for attention and a user’s budget, the decision whether to “highlight” a specific Facebook post and to what extent is left to them.

A free option of Highlight is also available to limited test users.

Highlight comes as Facebook is gearing up for an initial public offering, something expected to value the social media giant at close to $100 billion.

The company’s recent slowdown of growth has prompted Facebook to experiment and concentrate its efforts on making money. The company’s imminent stock market flotation has also added more pressure. Currently, most of Facebook’s money comes from advertising across the site.

Over the weekend, Facebook also unveiled an application store, where for the first time users must pay for some of the available apps.

With 5,000 friends and 35,922 fans on Facebook, I always wondered whether my “message” was being heard. Now I know the answer.

Highlight and “pay to be popular” is not yet available in the United States.

It’s Official: Facebook to Start Charging Users


Now that I have your attention, the above statement is false.

Following yet another change at Facebook, a new version of an old hoax is spreading throughout the Internet warning users that the company will soon start charging for their service.

Starting early last week, many of my Facebook friends and fans sent private messages and texts seeking advice on whether they should join the new subscription service or move their friends to Google +

So widespread was the rumor that the subject was topic of numerous conversations during Presidency 5 and CPAC in Orlando last week.  Many politicians and political strategists were openly wondering whether they would now have to pay for someone to “Like” them.

In fact, several of my colleagues openly questioned this “new policy” while watching the Fox Presidential Debate and munching on Google candy in the media center of the Orange County Convention Center.

The rumor – which is spreading as a chain letter on Facebook – warns users that the world’s largest social network will soon start charging as a result of upcoming profile changes.  Notwithstanding the Facebook disclaimer that “It’s free and always will be,” hundreds of thousands have fallen for this hoax.

The posts have been reported in numerous languages and in numerous countries:

“IT IS OFFICIAL.  IT WAS EVEN ON THE NEWS.  FACEBOOK WILL START CHARGING. DUE TO THE PROFILE CHANGES.  IF YOU COPY THIS ON YOUR WALL YOUR ICON WILL TURN BLUE AND FACEBOOK WILL BE FREE FOR YOU.  PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE ON,  IF NOT YOUR ACCOUNT WILL BE DELETED IF YOU DO NOT PAY.”

Another post offering various levels of Facebook membership:

“FACEBOOK JUST RELEASED THEIR PRICE GRID FOR MEMBERSHIP. $9.99 PER MONTH FOR GOLD MEMBER SERVICES, $6.99 PER MONTH FOR SILVER MEMBER SERVICES $3.99 PER MONTH FOR BRONZE MEMBER SERVICES, FREE IF YOU COPY AND PASTE THIS MESSAGE BEFORE MIDNIGHT TONIGHT. WHEN YOU SIGN ON TOMORROW MORNING YOU WILL BE PROMPTED FOR PAYMENT INFO…IT IS OFFICIAL IT WAS EVEN ON THE NEWS. FACEBOOK WILL START CHARGING DUE TO THE NEW PROFILE CHANGES. IF YOU COPY THIS ON YOUR WALL YOUR ICON WILL TURN BLUE AND FACEBOOK WILL BE FREE FOR YOU. PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE ON IF NOT YOUR ACCOUNT WILL BE DELETED IF YOU DO NOT PAY.”

Mashable.Com has reported that the widespread rumor is just that, a rumor.  Despite the recent changes, Facebook continues to maintain on its homepage, “It’s free and always will be.”

After all, Facebook is expected to generate over $4 billion in advertising revenue in 2011.  They would not be able to do this as a paid subscription service.  Users would abandon them in droves in search of free social networks like Google +

Among the changes revealed last Thursday at the F8 conference in San Francisco, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg discussed several new features covering everything from food to music.  One of the new features will provide a complete history of a Facebook users life on their profile page called “Timeline.”

“Timeline” will change a users profile page and will also display a large cover photo dominating it.  Facebook hopes this new service will better express who you are to others.

Even more interesting, “Timeline” will also allow Facebook users to check those who have defriended them.  This service has never before been available.

As a general rule of caution, Facebook users should not believe everything they read on their friends profile wall.  Although your friends may mean well, blindly copying and pasting false warnings and chain letters only allow rumors such as Facebook charging for its service to continue and thrive.

In dispelling other rumors: No, the Google candy available in the media room of the Fox Presidential Debate on Thursday did not contain transmitting devices. Therefore, you will not start glowing in the dark making you more searchable on Google search engines.

This is true – I was there and thoroughly enjoyed the candy bar provided by Google.

The Evolving Nation of Facebook


With over 600 million members and hundreds joining every hour, if Facebook were a nation, they would be the world’s third largest behind only China and India.  At seven years old, Facebook continues to develop an existence within society.

With that said, “change” is once again occurring at the social media utility as Facebook has released a cleaver and convenient way for users to convert non-personal profiles into business pages all without losing the social presence previously established.  A key difference between the two features is the fact that users can “like” a page while they must “friend” a profile.  Facebook believes that a page is a much better solution for businesses and public figures.

Over the last couple of years, numerous profile and privacy policy changes have occurred at the world’s largest social media network.  Most of these changes have been in relation to personal profiles and not those of businesses. Facebook’s main target with this move appears to be businesses and public figures that have previously setup a profile instead of a page.  In addition to a somewhat different feature set, personal profiles also have a 5,000 friend limit.

A Facebook personal profile created for a business, band, brand, organization, cause or product is a direct violation of the social network’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, and could result in the removal of all content and the connections the user has built over time.

Facebook business accounts offer page administrators special features that allow them to better connect with fans and customers while allowing them to manage their social ads and presence on the Internet.  Facebook blocks business accounts from viewing fans’ personal profiles and content and restricts businesses from “friending” personal accounts.

In an effort to “change” its position on such personal profiles while no longer simply removing those that violate its stated policy, Facebook has developed a new business type page.  This change is a welcome move for those who want to move their friends to a page and setup a new profile to maintain a more personal relationship with people they actually know.  It can also help those who should have exercised better judgment when they accepted certain people into their Facebook network.

When a “personal” user converts an account, all friends will migrate with the profile and will become “fans” on the new business page. The profile picture will also migrate, but all other content (photo albums, wall posts, notes, links, etc.) will be lost.  Inside Facebook recommends using the “Download Your Information” tool before converting an account to retain its contents for use elsewhere.

If the personal profile has more than 100 friends, a new page name will have to be chosen.  All login, email and password data will remain the same on the new business page.

Facebook has created a profile migration portal to help users make the change. Users can assign a page to the category (local or place; company, organization or institution; brand or product; artist, band or public figure; entertainment; cause or community) that will best define the page’s content and audience.

Facebook also has a Help Page to guide users through the process of converting personal accounts to business accounts.  It is important to note that profile migrating is irreversible, so be sure you really want to make the switch before completing all the steps.

To learn more about Facebook business accounts and profile migration, visit http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php?migrate.

To review Bill Lewis’ entire consumer protection series, visit http://www.williamlewis.us.

William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates is a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity.  To learn more, tune into The Credit Report with Bill Lewis, weekdays at 9 o’clock on AM 1470 WWNN.

Facebook Makes Sweeping Changes


With over 600 million members and hundreds joining every hour, if Facebook were a nation, they would be the world’s third largest behind only China and India.  At seven years old, Facebook continues to develop an existence within society.

With that said, “change” is once again occurring at the social media utility as Facebook has released a cleaver and convenient way for users to convert non-personal profiles into business pages all without losing the social presence previously established.  A key difference between the two features is the fact that users can “like” a page while they must “friend” a profile.  Facebook believes that a page is a much better solution for businesses and public figures.

Over the last couple of years, numerous profile and privacy policy changes have occurred at the world’s largest social media network.  Most of these changes have been in relation to personal profiles and not those of businesses. Facebook’s main target with this move appears to be businesses and public figures that have previously setup a profile instead of a page.  In addition to a somewhat different feature set, personal profiles also have a 5,000 friend limit.

A Facebook personal profile created for a business, band, brand, organization, cause or product is a direct violation of the social network’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, and could result in the removal of all content and the connections the user has built over time.

Facebook business accounts offer page administrators special features that allow them to better connect with fans and customers while allowing them to manage their social ads and presence on the Internet.  Facebook blocks business accounts from viewing fans’ personal profiles and content and restricts businesses from “friending” personal accounts.

In an effort to “change” its position on such personal profiles while no longer simply removing those that violate its stated policy, Facebook has developed a new business type page.  This change is a welcome move for those who want to move their friends to a page and setup a new profile to maintain a more personal relationship with people they actually know.  It can also help those who should have exercised better judgment when they accepted certain people into their Facebook network.

When a “personal” user converts an account, all friends will migrate with the profile and will become “fans” on the new business page. The profile picture will also migrate, but all other content (photo albums, wall posts, notes, links, etc.) will be lost.  Inside Facebook recommends using the “Download Your Information” tool before converting an account to retain its contents for use elsewhere.

If the personal profile has more than 100 friends, a new page name will have to be chosen.  All login, email and password data will remain the same on the new business page.

Facebook has created a profile migration portal to help users make the change. Users can assign a page to the category (local or place; company, organization or institution; brand or product; artist, band or public figure; entertainment; cause or community) that will best define the page’s content and audience.

Facebook also has a Help Page to guide users through the process of converting personal accounts to business accounts.  It is important to note that profile migrating is irreversible, so be sure you really want to make the switch before completing all the steps.

To learn more about Facebook business accounts and profile migration, visit http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php?migrate.

To review Bill Lewis’ entire consumer protection series, visit http://www.williamlewis.us.

William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates is a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity.  To learn more, tune into The Credit Report with Bill Lewis, weekdays at 9 o’clock on AM 1470 WWNN.

“Change” Once Again at Facebook


“Change” is once again occurring at social media utility Facebook as they are set to release a cleaver and convenient method for users to convert non-personal profiles into business pages without losing the social presence they have previously established.

Over the last couple of years, numerous profile and privacy policy changes have occurred at the world’s largest social media network.  Most of these changes have been in relation to personal profiles and not those of businesses.

Facebook business accounts offer page administrators special features that allow them to better connect with fans and customers while allowing them to manage their social ads and presence on the Internet.  Facebook blocks business accounts from viewing fans’ personal profiles and content and restricts businesses from “friending” personal accounts.

A Facebook personal profile created for a business, band, brand, organization, cause or product is a direct violation of the social network’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, and could result in the removal of all content and the connections the user has built over time.

In an effort to “change” its position on such personal profiles while no longer simply removing those that violate its stated policy, Facebook has developed a new business type page. 

When a “personal” user converts an account, all friends will migrate with the profile and will become “fans” on the new business page. The profile picture will also migrate, but all other content (photo albums, wall posts, notes, links, etc.) will be lost. Inside Facebook recommends using the Download Your Information tool before converting an account to retain its contents for use elsewhere.

If the profile has more than 100 friends, a new page name will have to be chosen.  All login, email and password data will remain the same on the new business page.

Facebook has created a profile migration portal to help users make the change. A user can assign the new Page to a category (local or place; company, organization or institution; brand or product; artist, band or public figure; entertainment; cause or community) that will best define the page’s content and audience.

Facebook also has a Help Page to guide users through the process of converting personal accounts to business accounts. 

A word to the wise – review any and all changes prior to finalizing the switch from a personal to business account as once completed, you cannot convert back.

William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates is a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity.  To learn more, tune into The Credit Report with Bill Lewis, weekdays at 9 o’clock on AM 1470 WWNN.