Worried that your status updates on Facebook aren't finding all the eyeballs you'd like them to reach? Soon you may be able to pay Facebook to give your status updates more visibility.
Reports indicate the company is testing a feature that allows a member to "highlight" a status update -- for a price -- to make sure more of their "friends" see the posting.
"We're constantly testing new features across the site. This particular test is simply to gauge people’s interest in this method of sharing with their friends," a Facebook spokesperson told PCWorld. It's essentially all a Facebook representative told Stuff, the New Zealand news website that appears to have noticed this first.
An obvious problem with a pay-for-views system is that it has the potential to poison a news feed. After all, isn't the feed algorithm supposed to prioritize postings based on the closeness of a friend or the popularity of a particular posting? Pay-for-views can corrupt that scheme. Worse yet, it could open the door for more junk -- like spam -- appearing in news feeds.
Here's how it works: you'll get an option of highlighting a status message beside the "like" and "comment" options by a status box. If you choose the option, a pop-up window appears, asking for a payment. Payments must be made with a credit card or PayPal -- no virtual Currency Credits accepted.
During the test period, prices will vary -- from free to $2 -- as Facebook feels up its members to find the best price point for the feature.
Posts that you highlight will appear higher in news feeds, stay visible longer, and appear to more friends and subscribers. Otherwise, they won't stand out from other messages in a friend's news feed so it won't be obvious that you're hooking for eyeballs.
The listen-to-me-I-paid-for-this feature stems from recent analyses that show that only 12 percent of a member's friends actually see their status updates. By the way, businesses don't do much better on the social network. Only 16 percent of their posts are seen by their followers.
Is this latest play to milk money from its members a sign of what we can expect in the future from the social network? This is the kind of stuff -- like job layoffs -- designed to appeal to investors. Once it becomes a public company with a $90 billion market cap, should we expect it to dream up new ways to nickel and dime its members to death? Stay tuned.
This article was updated at 11:10 a.m. Pacific Time on May 11, 2012.