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New Tech: Facebook's promoted posts

Facebook has given us everything from the status update to the like feature. However, recently Facebook has also decided that isn’t enough. There must be something missing. What could that be? Well, Facebook decided that missing piece was the “promoted post” feature. CNN reports that through a Facebook blog post the new feature was explained and tested out in New Zealand in May 2012 and then expanded to a variety of other users in 20 other countries in the following months afterward.

According to CNN, this feature was released in an experimental phase last week to a smaller group of users on Facebook. This allows these users to promote things that they find important such as announcements or pictures to their followers. Users who have access to the new feature have said that it typically costs around $7 to use.

Guardian said this about the new feature:

“To use the new feature, which applies to users with fewer than 5,000 friends and subscribers, you select the drop-down menu on the top-right corner of a friend's status update, select "promote and share", and pay the $7 fee.”

To me this seems like a fairly hefty price to promote things over Facebook, seemingly already full of excess pictures of weddings and small animals. However, a company spokeswoman told CNN that Facebook is “considering a variety of prices.”

It seems to me that Facebook is attempting to cash in on yet another feature of their website. They are taking statuses and updates and putting a price tag on them for any user who feels like shelling out the cash to make sure everyone knows what they are up to. Whether this new feature actually makes any significant profits for the company is still yet to be seen.

However, I would like to think that people would be reasonable enough not to use a feature like this as hastily as the “like” button. I feel that there should be some way to disable this feature on accounts of users who might not know the true costs, unless that’s the target.

The official launch of the feature was held Friday; however it has already sparked controversy over its privacy. One of the main arguments being that it is not necessary for friends to get permission to promote stories of other friends. Guardian this response from Facebook:

“Facebook insists the new feature is intended to be helpful to users, giving friends the opportunity, for example, to promote posts about charitable activities: ‘If your friend is running a marathon for charity and has posted that information publicly, you can help that friend by promoting their post to all of your friends.’”

Whether or not this is what the feature will be used for is unknown. Guardian also reports that LinkedIn has been experimenting with the same kind of feature on its website to be launched within the year.

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