Facebook has moved to cash in on its many users that seek to contact their favourite celebrities by charging them up to £11 to send private messages to the most influential sporting, political and film personalities.
It currently costs a basic rate of 71p in order for Facebook users to send a message to less well-known figures that do not have a veritable army of followers watching and reading their every move.
Facebook has confirmed the experiment in the UK, which has been rolled out to 36 countries following an initial trial in the United States. However, the network insists it is not yet sure whether the feature will be rolled out globally across its network after this initial Beta phase.
A Facebook spokeswoman said: “It is being tested among a very small percentage of users.
“There is no set timescale. It depends on what happens, what feedback we get as to whether it is rolled out nationally.
“We are testing a number of price points in the UK and other countries to establish the optimal fee that signals importance. This is still a test and these prices are not set in stone.”
For the vast majority of UK-based Facebook users they will not be affected by the trial. Those who are involved in the Beta phase can expect to see fee scale ranges from £10.68 to message the likes of Olympic diving sensation, Tom Daley, to 71p to chat to comedic duo, Miranda Hart and Bill Bailey.
The initial reasoning behind the charging feature for Facebook messaging was to inhibit the spamming of famous people, with paid-for messages going directly into their inbox as opposed to being placed in the “other” folder.
Iain Mackenzie, a spokesman for Facebook Europe, insisted users should not confuse the charging feature as a barometer for the most popular celebrities on the network.
He added: “There’s not a sliding scale based on fame. You can’t infer someone’s level of ‘celebrity’ from the numbers.”
Following the revelations of this latest Beta phase; the Guardian conducted a survey which asked its readers if they would be prepared to fork out upwards of £10 in which to send a direct message to their favourite celebrities. Tellingly, only four per cent confirmed they would be interested, as Facebook prepares for another backlash from many who view this as yet another controversial revenue stream.
Image: davesandford (flickr)
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