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Friday, May 11, 2012

Facebook Wants Narcissists to Pay to Make Sure Everyone Sees Their Brilliant Status Updates

Posted By on Fri, May 11, 2012 at 7:25 AM

click to enlarge The nonstop narcissim continues
  • The nonstop narcissim continues
Imagine this scene:

Half-filled Starbucks, around 2 p.m. Man in plaid button-down sits at table, reading nytimes.com story about Michele Bachmann denouncing her Swiss citizenship. Man chuckles, then pulls up Facebook window.

Man in plaid button-down: Excuse me.

Facebook: Yeah, waddya want?

Man in plaid button-down: I have a hilarious one-liner about Michele Bachmann denouncing her Swiss citizenship. I really want all my friends to read it. Can you make sure they all see my status?

Facebook: Maybe I can, and maybe I can't.

On screen, box asking for credit card info pops up.  Man in plaid button-down types in numbers.

Facebook: Yeah, I can do that.

[SCENE]

This essentially is the new Facebook feature, currently being tested in New Zealand, and it allows you to pay $2 to "Highlight an Important Post: Make sure your friends see this."

Because the type of person willing to pay for this service is exactly the type of person whose status updates you want to read.

The "Highlight" option pops up beside the "Like" and "Comment" buttons, according to TechCrunch. Click it and the next screen asks whether you prefer to pay with credit card, through PayPal, or by forking over your dignity.

"Highlighted posts may appear higher in the news feed, stay visible for longer, and appear to more friends," TechCrunch notes. "However, they're not colored differently to make them stand out."

Making those posts a different color to stand out, of course, would be the equivalent of that mythical chemical that turns your pee red in the swimming pool. Paying to promote your Facebook status might be more embarrassing than paying for porn.

Stuff, the New Zealand news site that first reported this trial yesterday, contacted Facebook spokeswoman Mia Garlick.

"We're constantly testing new features across the site," Garlick told them. "This particular test is simply to gauge people's interest in this method of sharing with their friends."

It is difficult to image a scenario in which the inevitable barrage of mocking tweets and snarky blog posts doesn't lead to Facebook brass canning the idea and asking Mark Zuckerberg to sign a pledge to "never again drunk dial my executives with spontaneous ideas, then threaten to fire them if they do not implement those ideas."

Perhaps this is all just a ploy to win over deep-pocketed skeptics. The newly-public company is clearly exploring all options to monetize its product. As TechCrunch wrote:

Just the fact that Facebook would test this could bolster confidence for potential IPO investors. They want to know the company is interested in striking a more advertiser-friendly balance between a pure user experience and the goals of advertisers.

In the unlikely scenario that "Highlight" becomes a reality, it remains unclear whether this will lead to more:

A) Spambots with profile pictures of attractive people sending you friend requests, then plastering your wall with Highlighted posts about an unbelievable investment opportunity involving Aruban gold;

B) Facebook "pages" of all the musical artists/TV shows/products you "Like" exploiting the tool to promote every single upcoming event;

C) very rich and narcissistic people dropping $300 a month to ensure that all their statuses gets seen by all their friends;

D) nobody complains about the feature like it were a new Facebook timeline or something.

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Albert Samaha

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