Will Facebook users pay for extras?
The social network is testing to see whether people will pony up to highlight their status updates.
Facebook, the social network that is about to launch the biggest-ever Internet IPO, is finally learning the oldest of business axioms: Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?
According to TechCrunch, Facebook is experimenting with a service that would enable users to pay to highlight their status updates to ensure that more friends see them. Believe it or not, only 12% of your friends see your status updates -- a statistic that may shock many Facebook users who seem to think the world awaits their every utterance with bated breath.
TechCrunch points out that the Highlight service has many practical applications. "Sometimes you have a post you really need people to see, like 'I need a kidney donor,' 'I'm renting out my apartment' or 'I'm moving to New York, come say goodbye tonight,'" according to the blog. It could also be useful for job hunting and dating.
Post continues below.
Whether this will appeal to most Facebook users is hard to say. But many will, no doubt, be keenly interested in finding a new way to stand out from the crowd. And most likely there will be plenty of entrepreneurs interested in finding new ways to mine the data for huge profits.
LinkedIn (LNKD) has amassed big bucks selling services designed to make it easier for people to find jobs, so it's not a shock that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who turns 28 Monday, is looking to do the same. Of course, the new service could open the spam floodgates on Facebook's 1 billion or so users, but that is a risk the newly minted billionaire is willing to take. This will give investors, such as Apple (AAPL) co-founder Steve Wozniak, yet another reason to snap up shares of Facebook.
In less than a decade, Facebook has evolved from a secret cyberclub open only to students at elite colleges to a multibillion-dollar enterprise that has changed modern society. Along the way, Zuckerberg and company have amassed a huge amount of valuable information about their users, such as what they like and dislike. Advertisers use the data to target advertisements -- which to them isn't everything, it's the only thing. In theory, someone who likes Cap'n Crunch would be interested in receiving cyber coupons for the sugary cereal. The same goes for ads for political candidates and local restaurants. Traditional media like TV and newspapers should be scared to death.
Highlight may be the start of a new chapter in the evolution of Facebook as a corporation -- or the beginning of the end of what was once considered the coolest corner of the Internet. It will take years for people to know which Facebook vision will turn out to be true.
Jonathan Berr does not own shares of any of the listed companies. Follow him on Twitter@jdberr.com.
More from MSN Money
- For Zuckerberg's birthday, IPO could be $100B gift
- Is Facebook IPO hot or not?
- Apple founder Wozniak wants to buy Facebook
"It's free and always will be."
"It's free and always will be...until it's not."
Anyone else getting tired of this kind of logic EVERYWHERE?
I have no interest in wasting hours of my time trying to catch up with what other people are doing.
If you want to talk to me, call me or come over. I don't have time to waste on this useless junk.
This sh*t needs to end.
First his buddy gives up his American citizenship to avoid taxes when FB IPO is released, now this?
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
These hot movers could rise by double digits in coming months.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.
Follow us on Twitter @topstocksmsn.