Earlier this year, Facebook introduced an advertising tool, Reach Generator, that allowed brands to pay to promote their posts and ensure they reached a wider audience than they would have otherwise.
Now, as TechCrunch reported, Facebook’s “Highlight” tool gives individuals the opportunity to boost the visibility of certain status updates, though they may be charged to do so.
They are currently testing a range of prices, including a free version. But, sources indicate Facebook may charge you $2.00 to showcase an “important post.” Users can choose to promote a certain status update, though they don’t have the option of choosing the exact percentage of Facebook friends will see it.
“We’re constantly testing new features across the site,” a Facebook spokeswoman told The Huffington Post. “This particular test is simply to gauge people’s interest in this method of sharing with their friends.”
This particular test also has the potential to fundamentally change the nature of what we see on Facebook and why. Currently, Facebook’s algorithm determines what mix of posts appear in your News Feed using cues such as how many other friends have “liked” the update and commented on it, or how close you are the person posting the news. Advertising aside, it’s more or less a meritocracy. If lots of people love a story, you’re more likely to see it in your News Feed.
The Highlight tool could perhaps transform that meritocracy into a system that rewards the richest (and most narcissistic). In a post-Highlight world, the friends who get the most visibility on Facebook wouldn’t necessarily be the most engaging ones, just the ones with some spare cash to spend. Already, it often feels an awful lot like our friends are marketing themselves to us via their social media sharing. Highlight could make those updates even more like advertisements.