Is a Facebook Subscription Service On The Way?

In the face of growing criticism regarding Facebook advertisors and transparency, a user subscription service seems to be picking up steam. Many users believe the social media monster has taken on a life of its own that caters to corporate giants, and leaves users vulnerable to unwanted ads. Many also believe this exposes them to further unwanted communication, due to levels of information advertisers are sometimes able to get from Facebook apps. One of the solutions to those complaints may be a subscription service, which allows users to pay a monthly fee to remove ads from member pages and news feed.

Many social media experts believe a Facebook subscription service would satisfy the complaints of many users, and would allow the company to recoup any lost advertising. There are also other reasons for the company to pursue a subscription model. Paid subscribers will be seen as in a higher income bracket, true or untrue, which make them more lucrative to potential advertisers. Advertisers are of course who Facebook care most about since they currently are the customer.

The subscription fee is likely to be $11 a month. Some wonder if users, comfortable with a free model will opt into a paid service. That question was answered by three economists who sought to answer that question. The economists offered users money not to use Facebook for a month. They used a sample of the U.S. Facebook user market. Their findings revealed that it would take a median $40-$50 per month to convince users to give up Facebook.

But not everyone agrees with the findings of the economists. Some experts feel many users will not pay for a paid service, especially after using the free model for a significant period of time. Users value Facebook because of its free model, according to Avi Goldfarb, co-author of Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence.

“Facebook is valuable partly because everybody else that you know is on Facebook. If it starts to be behind a paywall, some of those people will choose not to be on Facebook,” she explained.

Many others also doubt the normal user will pay $11 for an ad-free service, while deriving no other benefit than what they are already receiving with the free model. Time will tell what model Facebook will release for paid service. Time will also tell if the giant will continue into the future as the same company its users admire.

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