“No,” Facebook would like to remind us, “Facebook is absolutely not going to become a subscription-only pay site, and any articles or shares you see that purport that Facebook will become a pay site are patently false.”
However, Facebook is now reporting that starting in 2020, they will offer the opportunity for users to pay for added features.
Facebook Features, which reportedly has been in development for more than two years, hopes to appeal to a broad array of users by offering a range of customizable attributes available from a drop-list of options, each with an affordable set price.
According to the press release, Facebook will continue to run as a free site — in fact, the press release repeats this numerous times. The release stresses that “all current Facebook amenities will remain available to all users at no charge”. Facebook Features will be entirely optional service of options not currently available.
“We’ve been excited about this for some time,” said Facebook spokesman Alex Surikov during a press briefing. “With everything going on around our platform over the past 18 months, its been difficult to keep a project this big this under wraps.”
The written press release, distributed at Surikov’s request, included a detailed list of potential features to the platform. Among them:
-A streaming video service tentatively called Streambook will offer an extensive library of entertainment features, including out-of-print and out-of-circulation titles not currently available on other streaming services, with access to long-sealed titles from obscure and defunct film studios like Edison, Screen Gems, Caballero, and VCA Gold.
“The goal here isn’t to replace the Netflixes and Hulus of the world but just to amend the streaming market and provide access to films and programming that no one else is streaming.”
-An ad-blocker which keeps paid third-party advertisements out of the News Feed. “This will allow for more opportunities for users to see the pages with which they’re already engaged as opposed to advertisers who are running canvassing campaigns.” Surikov suggested.
Bundled with the ad-blocker comes an additional security feature which is designed to not only encrypt and protect your data but continue to constantly re-encrypt it to keep it out of the hands of hackers and data-mining companies alike.
“We expect that the encryption aspect will become a normal, free feature after some time, but while it is still in beta testing we will be allowing Features users to optionally test it in conjunction with the ad-block feature,” Surikov said.
Surikov also indicated that the media giant anticipates losing some advertising revenue if or when the ad block feature becomes popular, but that the company feels that user fees will help offset the differential, calling it “a fair tit-for-tat.”
“Obviously this is something we’ll have to monitor closely,” Surikov reported.
-Facebook Features expects lots of buzz around it’s Facebook Reports feature, which Surikov describes as a sort of “get out of jail free” token.
At an anticipated cost of $12.99US each, and 2 for $19.99US, Facebook Reports tokens will serve two functions. In the event that a user gets “reported” and issued a privileges ban, users who possess a token can use the token to block the user who reported them and have their privileges reinstated (the post is still removed, and the account is still noted for having violated terms of service in the event of further violations). Secondarily, simply by owning the token, a user who chooses to contest a user-generated “report” can have their review bumped directly to a moderator without using the token. In the event that the moderator rules in favor of the reporter, then the user may use a token to avoid immediate repercussions but is not charged if the moderator rules that the post or action does not violate TOS.
The catches? Users can only purchase and/or use two Facebook Reports tokens per calendar year, and tokens must be owned in advance (a user with an active report in processing will not be allowed to purchase a token to challenge that report, only tokens owned prior to the offense. Tokens will be non-transferable, and to help curb trolling, tokens are issued based upon IP address, not solely account.
“We anticipate a brief disruptive period when the program gets underway, but it will take no time to iron those kinks out,” Surikov stated. “It advantages us that in many cases, blocks will ultimately smooth over many of the issues that might be presented by the Facebook Reports program. Cost and other regulations will help smooth over the rest.”
Facebook expects to present a more thorough list of pay features in the upcoming months — suggesting titles like Facebook 18+ Networks and Facebook MLB Portal — and hopes to have the Facebook Features program integrated into the Facebook platform by Spring 2020. While no firm numbers have been assessed at current, Faceook expects that it will be hiring as many as 350 more workers in India to accommodate the roll-out.