Yesterday or so Facebook announced:
"Today we're starting a small experiment to test the usefulness of economic signals to determine relevance. This test will give a small number of people the option to pay to have a message routed to the 'Inbox' rather than the 'Other' folder of a recipient that they are not connected with."
Oh ding! I NEED to be part of that small number of people, because I wanna send a message to Mark Zuckerberg that says "Don't you hate it when people you don't know send you messages!? OMG!!!" The service will cost one dollar per message, and users cannot receive more than one of these paid, re-routed messages per week.
Wowza, Mark! I didn't even know there was an "Other" box up in there. It's clearly not doing a very good job though, because my "Inbox" is filled with more detritus than a barf bag on US Airways Flight 1549. That signal-to-noise ratio has gone off the ratio charts and straight into a death metal concert, Jack! All of which reminds me of a tit-for-tat I once saw in the site:
"Event invites have ruined Facebook," the performer said.
"Rather, Facebook has ruined event invites," the promoter said*
Elsewhere on the internet, Instagram (owned by Facebook) Monday announced an update to its terms of service, which really just sounded like a bunch of legal malarkey about sharing more collected data more legal-y with its sugar daddy, FB. Unsurprisingly, a giant shitstorm moved in over the internet because it enabled Instagram to commandeer users' photos for advertisements; Instagram's suggested archival service, instaport.me, buckled under the data exodus (even good-old Flickr reportedly saw an uptick in accounts); and Mat Honan of Wired.com axed his Instagram account and then wrote about it in a post placed prominently on the site. At the crux:
The issue is about more than using photos of my baby daughter, or deceased grandmother, in ads. The greater concern should be that the company would forge ahead with such a plan without offering any other option to the very users and data that built it.
Unsurprisingly, within days Instagram rolled back the advertising-section update to its original terms.
It seems that both of these stories fall, or will fall, under the centuries-old axioms: "Don't bite the user base that feeds you," and "You can lead an internet user to your social networking service, but you can't make him pay for anything or let you use pictures of his dead grandma in ads." Har!