RR Corner: from sombre to humour!: Can Facebook start charging us?

By Ritesh(R) Chugh and Ripan(R) Sethi

Denying the existence of Facebook in a lot of people’s lives is almost unthinkable and it has become an undeniable obsession globally. Facebook has affected us positively in many ways – helped connect with long-distance family and friends, source for news and information, made communication easier and undoubtedly assisted many companies in reaching out to their customers. However, a review of the umpteen literature also tells us that Facebook can be an addiction and trying to stay away from it can often cause withdrawal symptoms.

Currently there are around 16 million Facebook users in Australia, which is nearly 66 percent of the total Australian population. Being an early adopter of Facebook and a witness to its phenomenal growth globally, RR can only look in awe at its high number of members. Facebook reports to have 2.07 billion monthly active users as of September 2017, which implies that in terms of its current active users, it is clearly edging towards numbers that would beat both India and China’s population put together in the near future.

Now, what if Facebook decides to charge a membership/subscription fee? Let us assume a meagre annual membership fee of $1. It will definitely help in boosting the coffers of Facebook by $2 billion (discount the fake members) annually, without breaking your bank account. However, it might not necessarily stop there because Facebook might decide to charge a higher membership fee for their business customers. That may not be the end of it; the company might even start charging for downloading their smartphone application too! In a capitalist society, the user always pays.

This leads us to consider whether Facebook’s existing customers will jump the boat and move elsewhere (Google +). What will happen if Google + at some stage also decides to start charging its customers? The situation could be similar to some newspapers who have adopted a subscription-based model for full access to their articles. In the newspaper industry, all it took was someone like Rupert Murdoch to lead the industry towards a pay-per-view model. If Mark Zuckerberg decides on similar lines, then customers should be prepared to pay unless they decide to stop using Facebook altogether. Some astute people might give it a try and stay away from Facebook whereas others will cave in to the membership fee! After all, it is a trade-off.

In the interim, all we can do is hope that this scenario never eventuates and Facebook remains free to access in the years ahead…….After all, the sign up page on Facebook says “It’s free and always will be.”

P.S. – RR take this opportunity to wish you and your family a Happy New Year. May you find fulfilment and joy in your endeavours!

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