News Column

Facebook Is Forever Free -- But Maybe Not for Celebrity BFF's

Apr 12 2013 9:12AM
Kim Kardashian (file photo)
Kim Kardashian (file photo)

Social media sites are now making celebs more accessible to fans who want to interact with them.

It serves both ends as celebs get a chance to interact with fans on a one-to-one basis, while the ordinary man gets to communicate with his idol.

Toward that end, Facebook has started charging U.K. users to send messages to celebrities. The fees vary depending on the popularity of the recipient, but the price is higher to contact celebrities such as Olympic diver Tom Daley, for instance, who commands a higher price than gangster rapper Snoop Dogg and Booker prize-winning author Salman Rushdie. The fee structure is decided by a mathematical formula that takes into account such factors as the number of followers a user has on Facebook and how many messages they receive.

Charges to contact somebody using the system can rise and fall under the system.

The fees were introduced for 10 percent of British users as a trial at the end of last month with the plan to introduce it to all members of Facebook in the country.

The charge can be paid online instantly with a credit or debit card. Users under the age of 18 are barred from making such payments and are also blocked from receiving unsolicited messages.

Facebook faced criticism after details of the costs became known, especially because it has boasted that 'the site is free and always will be.' Peter Wood, social media director at digital marketing agency Steak, tweeted: "Facebook charging users in the UK to contact celebs online. 1-0 Twitter. Seems a bit mean to charge someone to send fan mail."

In its defense, Facebook says: "We are testing a number of price points in the U.K. and other countries to establish the optimal fee that signals importance. Part of that test involves charging higher amounts for public figures, based on the number of followers they have."

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Source: Copyright DNA : Daily News & Analysis (India) 2013

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