Want to Message Salman Rushdie? Just Pay Facebook $15

Ian Becker

A handful of Facebook users can now send messages to their favorite celebrities--but not for free. U.K. Facebook users participating in a pilot program can pay up to £11 (about $17) to message celebrities and others outside their circle of friends. As the Guardian reports, Facebook has been testing pay-to-message systems in the U.S. and other countries since 2012: "It is being tested among a very small percentage of users," said a spokeswoman. "There is no set timescale. It depends on what happens, what feedback we get as to whether it is rolled out nationally. We are testing a number of price points in the UK and other countries to establish the optimal fee that signals importance. This is still a test and these prices are not set in stone."   Facebook has been trialling charging at its US operation since December. The trial has now been extended to a further 36 countries, including the UK.   Facebook said the charging fee structure varied according to a number of factors including the number of followers and a secret "fame" algorithm.   The vast majority of users in the UK can still send messages to strangers for free, but those involved in the test can see the fee scale ranges from the £10.68 for a household name such as Daley to £10.08 to contact author Salman Rushdie. According to the Huffington Post's U.S. Tech Editor, Bianca Bosker, Facebook's pay-to-message plan should ring alarm bells: If ever there was a sign that Facebook has completed its transition from social network to commercial network, this is it. Facebook is trying to turn a profit in a way that subverts the original purpose of the site. Paying for special delivery doesn't encourage socializing. It penalizes it. Have something to say about the idea to Facebook's founder, Mark Zuckerberg? Contacting him won't come cheap; in January, Facebook's pilot program in the U.S. set the price to message Zuckerberg at around $100. 

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