When was the last time we went a week without hearing about a change to the Facebook algorithm? Every few days news or rumors leak out about how they’re “bettering” the timeline for users.
But we all know the truth. They do this for one reason: monetization.
Facebook is a public company and it is the responsibility of the company to make more money. Nobody should fault them for this. It’s a free platform and people shouldn’t get upset when the for-profit company makes changes so it can make a larger profit.
After companies spent a lot of time and money building up their community on Facebook, the silicon valley powerhouse changed the algorithm to limit the amount of visibility a corporate post gets. This was to entice companies to spend money to boost visibility. Want your fans to see your content? You now have to pay for that.
Just last week Facebook announced that they are once again changing the timeline so it focuses on friends and family. Translation: companies had almost no free access to viewers. Now it has even less.
But what happens when Facebook maxes out the money it can squeeze out of companies? Where does it look for the next source of revenue?
What happens if/when Facebook switches to a freemium system? Platforms like Slack are growing rapidly by having limited capabilities for free. You can only view the last 10,000 messages on Slack … unless you pay to upgrade your account.
What if Facebook decides that you can only view your past six months of history for free? Beyond that, it will cost you. For fun, let’s call it FacebookLife. I don’t know about you, but my kids’ entire lives have been uploaded to Facebook (yeah, I’m that guy). Is it worth $3/month in order to easily view photos and videos of my daughter’s first birthday? Is it worth $5/month? Probably.
So much of our lives have been posted to Facebook that it’s practically an archive of our past 10 years. Want to make sure you don’t wear the same dress to another wedding? Skim through your past photos. Can you believe how long it’s been since you graduated? Facebook will remind you.
Facebook has done a great job diversifying its interests to follow user trends (Instagram, Oculus, etc). But advertising on digital platforms will only take a company so far. Just imagine if Facebook could start to monetize a percentage of its 1.65 billion monthly active users.
At this point, it’s not a question of “Will Facebook monetize users,” it’s more a question of “WHEN will Facebook monetize users?” It’s unlikely, but you never know.
This post originally appeared on Medium.