Two-Headed Tuesday: You can(‘t) put a price on fame

Nicole Gibillini
Deputy Editor

Facebook is charging users to message celebrities? I’m sorry, what? That seems a bit unreasonable.

But let’s calm down for a second.

Facebook’s most recent money-grabbing attempt is only in the experimental phase right now—one the company is currently trying out in 36 countries. According to The Guardian, Facebook is charging users there up to 11 euros, about $14.50 Canadian, to private message celebrities and other people outside their circle of friends.

While the idea seems bizarre, especially for a free social networking site, it’s not entirely surprising.

This experiment is a sign Facebook may not be doing too well, and is trying to find additional sources of income.  This move is especially timely now that the social networking is on the stock exchange. But to all you celebrity-obsessed stalkers out there, I say relax.

Let’s look into the hypothetical future. If this fee were to become permanent, there are other free mediums by which you can attempt to contact high-profile people—Twitter being one example.

And if you are truly that passionate about contacting people outside of your circle, famous people in particular, then Facebook’s fee is a small price to pay. The company also notes the pre-paid message would go directly to the recipient’s inbox, as opposed to the “other” folder, which receives communication from outside senders—which could increase the changes of your message reaching the celebrity you’re trying to contact.

If this experiment becomes controversial, which it probably will, the likelihood of the messaging fee becoming a company-wide policy is slim. But if it’s enforced, and you don’t like it, then simply don’t use it.

Alternatively, you can say bye to Facebook for good, and use one of the other many social networking sites out there.

But seeing as this fee is only in the test stages, it’s not worth getting worked up over. If it turns into something bigger, and Facebook users are so willing to spend some money to get in touch with high-profile people, then let them.

Cam Parkes
Managing Editor

Honestly, I don’t even know why it’s necessary to present this argument, but here it is. Facebook has started charging some UK users up to £11 (about $17) to send messages to celebrities, and people outside their circle of friends.

Can no one see what an idiotic idea this is?

Let’s take the example of Olympic swimmer Tom Daley.  For the low price of £10.68 ($16.58) a user can send a message to Tom. That’s great and everything, but why the hell would you waste that money?

First of all, there’s no guarantee that Daley would even respond. And think about it—someone like him probably has better things to do than sit around on his Facebook all day, replying to the thousands and thousands of messages he’s likely to receive.

And secondly, even if you were to get a response, how can you possibly know it’s Tom Daley himself responding? Personally, I wouldn’t pay to send a celebrity a message, but if I were the type of person to do that, I wouldn’t be satisfied with a response from some social media person employed by them.

Another point—how do we even know that our message goes to who Facebook says it goes to? If celebrities have private Facebooks (and they do) why would they suddenly allow anyone with some extra cash to spam them? Do they get a percentage of the cut? Or—and this would bring up some ethical issues—is Facebook merely ignoring their privacy and passing on messages to make an extra buck?

Even more concerning, though, is the implication that, if this trial were to be implemented nationwide, all users would have to pay to message someone they’re not friends with.

What the hell, Facebook?

I think that’s a ludicrous notion. Personally, just yesterday I messaged someone I wasn’t Facebook friends with to confirm some details for a story. She doesn’t know me, and undoubtedly would not want to be Facebook friends with me for that reason. This simple back-and-forth affair would have cost me $3.31. That may not seem like a lot—okay, it really isn’t that much—but that’s two coffees right there. And I need those coffees.

Seriously, if you want to contact a celebrity, and they’re worth contacting, just tweet them. It’s easy, and free.

Editorial Board
The editorial board is comprised of editors and volunteers from the Gazette. Opinion articles written by the editorial board receive contributions from multiple Gazette writers and represent the paper's position on an issue.
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