Rumor: Facebook now charging to message celebrities

It can cost some users $15.50 to send a Facebook message to rapper Snoop Dogg.

TRUE

Some Facebook users were charged a fee to send messages to celebrities or others outside their circle.

It now can cost about $15.50 for some British users of Facebook to send a message to rapper Snoop Dogg or author Salman Rushdie, and $17 to send a message to Olympic swimmer Tom Daley, according to The Sunday Times, drawing buzz in The Independent,The Telegraph, The Daily Mail and Forbes.

"The system of paying to message non-friends in their inbox is designed to prevent spam while acknowledging that sometimes you might want to hear from people outside your immediate social circle," Facebook said in a statement, according to the Sunday Times and the Telegraph. "We are testing a number of price points in the UK and other countries to establish the optimal fee that signals importance."

You too may have been asked to pay a buck or more to send a message to someone outside your social circle. If so, you've been part of an experiment extended to a "small number of people," as described in this Facebook press release.

What's up?

"Facebook is charging its users to contact people outside their social circle — and for celebrities prices can vary based on fame," reports Mashable. "The new system may very well irritate (and alienate) celebrities," PCWorld says.

The idea is that if you don't pay a proffered fee, your well-written message to your favorite celebrity won't make it into the easy-to-spot ordinary message folder. Instead, it will be shunted into the recipient's "Other" folder, likely never to be seen. (Let's face it, who knows where their "Other" folder is?) Facebook portrays the fee a different way — it's a way to limit spam.

Fee isn't a fame barometer, Facebook says

"There's not a sliding scale based on fame. You can't infer someone's level of 'celebrity' from the numbers," Facebook Europe spokesman Iain Mackenzie said, according to The Daily Mail and the Guardian.

So enjoy your free messaging while it lasts. MSN News did its own experiment and it appears to still be free for U.S. users to send a Facebook message to Barbara Walters, Drew Carey, Ellen DeGeneres, Pope Francis and Bill Gates.

If you wanted to send a Facebook message to its billionaire company founder Mark Zuckerberg a while back, it could've cost you a cool Benjamin Franklin — yes, $100, Mashable reports. (That fee has since ended.) Messages to Zuckerberg are now free, but they're shunted off to his "Other" folder.

 

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