Meta, formerly known as Facebook, is reportedly testing a new filter that would allow users to separate engagement from paid users in-stream. The new feature would permit users to prioritize replies from verified Meta users on posts. The impetus behind the trial is to prioritize paying accounts, thus reducing bot accounts and spammers that could hinder engagement.
However, this inadvertently creates a class system, further dividing wealthy and poor users in developed and emerging markets, ultimately impacting those who can afford to pay for priority listing. In contrast, those who cannot afford it will have their voices deprioritized as a result, leading to further restrictions in conversation.
The push to monetize engagement seems to be a backward step, further shrinking the scope of participation in social media. This move compromises the ideals of a “global town square” that social media platforms once promised, where anyone could interact with celebrities and world leaders on a level playing field. As a result, this new monetization strategy could become a disincentive for users to post and engage with others, as there are fewer chances that their updates will be seen. Meta’s experimenting with this element is part of a new trend within the social media sphere to encourage take-up of subscription packages.