Facebook has always been a free service, and supported by targeted advertising. But now, the social media giant is starting to test a new feature that will allow Facebook Group administrators to charge a monthly fee for exclusive membership in certain groups, the company announced on Thursday in a blog post.
During the test, Facebook Group administrators will be allowed to charge members US$4.99 to US$29.99 per month for access to special sub-groups full of exclusive posts.
According to the announcement, the subscription group pilot is being tested with a small number of groups across a range of interests including parenting, cooking, and home-cleaning.
Subscription members may have access to tutorials, live videos, lists of tips and direct support from administrators.
Members can sign up and manage their subscription through the Facebook app for iOS and Android. They will be billed on the application date each month.
For subscription members, the operating systems get their 30 percent cut on a user’s first year of subscription and 15 percent after that, as part of standard App Store and Play Store policies, while Facebook will not be getting a cut during the test, TechCrunch reported.
Amid growing concerns over its data collection and targeted ad practices, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg mentioned in his testimony to the US Congress in April the possibility of launching an advertisement-free subscription version of the website.
Facebook Groups product manager Alex Deve told TechCrunch: “It’s not so much about making money as it is investing in their community.”
He also said he believes the subscription fund could help group administrators to create higher-quality content.
“They have their own ideas. We want to see how that is going to evolve,” Deve said.
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