When social media became mainstream, it was because it was based around a simple tenet — that it was about establishing trusted relationships between people. People’s personal networks were based around friends, people you knew and their friends. Trust between peers was the bridge that powered sharing. For years, Facebook grew on the basis that influence was based on the strength of one’s closest relationships.
Fast forward to the present day where there are a billion users on Facebook and growing. Facebook is a public company with quarterly pressure to drive revenues.
Facebook recently made news for testing a new feature that lets anyone direct message another user for $1. While they’re only testing this feature, pay for access goes against the whole point of social media. Under that plan, people willing (or desperate enough) to pay to contact someone else not in their network are able to. While it defeats the purpose of social networks it also creates a whole slew of negative scenarios such as creepy old men contacting underage girls, verbal abusers, brands spamming consumers, etc. This can’t be a good thing.
For quite some time, Facebook has made controversial decisions that seem to go against the grain of what it stands for. At some point, the drive for additional revenue will clash with the fundamental premise of the social network.
Originally published at www.jasonchan.com on December 31, 2012.