In a move that looks like it's both an effort to compete with user-revenue-generating platforms like YouTube and to boost sharing on the platform overall, Facebook appears to be considering options for allowing users to monetize their posts, either through tips and donations or sponsorship deals. The Verge brings us the news via a user survey that just went around to a certain segment of users, suggesting that the company is mulling a tip jar method for users with active fan bases, as well as options for branded content, a sponsor marketplace to match up users with potential advertisers, and the addition of a call to action button that links users to ticket sale pages or sign-up forms.
The move comes just a couple weeks after Tech Insider and Bloomberg were reporting that, internally, Facebook is starting to panic over a decline in personal sharing basically, while the one-billion-plus users of Facebook are still using the site, they're showing signs of using it differently, and perhaps learning to stop over-sharing and getting to personal on a daily basis. There's an uptick in shared content from content producers (like SFist, ahem), but a downturn in complaining about your commute and sharing pics of your breakfast.
YouTube has been letting users earn money from their videos for nearly a decade now, since 2007, creating a new class of celebrity that is somewhere between public-access TV star and reality-TV star. And now it seems like Facebook, which has also been making a recent push into live-video streaming, wants to do something similar, and compete with Twitter and Snapchat in the realm of real-time sharing in the process.
Currently, Facebook users can add a "Leave a Tip" button to their pages, but it's complicated and it involves a bunch of steps via PayPal.
Virtual reality pioneer and computer scientist Jaron Lanier has been calling out Facebook for a while now for not acknowledging that it makes all its money off the backs of other peoples' content, and that it ought to be doing more to share the wealth with users who create that content. Lanier sees it as part of a larger economic question about how wealth moves around in the new age of social media, arguing that Facebook should be doing everything it can to increase its users spending power. "It's not a non-value," Lanier says. "It shrinks the economy gradually, so very gradually all the customers start to sink."
The bigger question, though, is whether Facebook can really attract any of that vlogging talent away from YouTube, now that it's ten years late on this, or whether anyone besides musicians or independent filmmakers really stand to make any money from any of these monetizing methods. Like, I don't think anyone's going to get rich from posting pics of their cat and adding a "Tip Me" button.
Previously: Facebook Knows Your Race, Sends You Targeted Ads