The psychological impact of an $11 Facebook subscription

The psychological impact of an $11 Facebook subscription
From TechCrunch - April 15, 2018

Would being asked to pay Facebook to remove ads make you appreciate their value or resent them even more? As Facebookconsiders offering an ad-free subscription option, there are deeper questions than how much money it could earn. Facebook has the opportunity to let us decide how we compensate it for social networking. But choice doesnt always make people happy.

In February I explored the idea of how Facebook could disarm data privacy backlash and boost well-being by letting us pay a monthly subscription fee instead of selling our attention to advertisers. The big takeaways were:

However, my analysis neglected some of the psychological fallout of telling people they only get to ditch ads if they can afford it, the loss of ubiquitous reach for advertisers, and the reality of which users would cough up the cash. Though on the other hand, I also neglected the epiphany a price tag could produce for users angry about targeted advertising.

Whats Best For Everyone

This conversation is relevant because Zuckerberg was asked twice by congress about Facebook potentially offering subscriptions. Zuckerberg endorsed the merits of ad-supported apps, but never ruled out letting users buy a premium version. We dont offer an option today for people to pay to not show ads Zuckerberg said, later elaborating that Overall,I think that the ads experience is going to be the best one. I think in general, people like not having to pay for a service. A lot of people cant afford to pay for a service around the world, and this aligns with our mission the best.

But that word today gave a glimmer of hope that we might be able to pay in the future.

What would we be paying for beyond removing ads, though?. Facebook already lets users concerned about their privacy opt out of some ad targeting, just not seeing ads as a whole. Zuckerbergs stumping for free Internet services make it seem unlikely that Facebook would build valuable features and reserve them for subscribers

Spotify only lets paid users play any song they want on-demand, while ad-supported users are stuck on shuffle. LinkedIn only lets paid users message anyone they want and appear as a featured applicant to hirers, while ad-supported users can only message their connections. Netflix only lets paid usersuse it at all.

But Facebook views social networking as a human right, and would likely want to give all users anyextra features it developed like News Feed filters to weed out politics or baby pics. Facebook also probably wouldnt sell features that break privacy like how LinkedIn subscribers can see who visited their profiles. In fact, Iwouldnt bet on Facebook offering any significant premium-only features beyond removing ads. That could make it a tough sell.

Meanwhile, advertisers trying to reach every member of a demographic might not want a way for people to pay to opt-out of ads. If theyre trying to promote a new movie, a restaurant chain, or an election campaign, theyd want as strong of penetration amongst their target audience as they can get. A subscription model punches holes in the ubiquity of Facebook ads that drive businesses to the app.

Resentment Vs Appreciation


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