Facebook must stay free, compete with Google to continue success

Chris Sanford | The Collegian

When Facebook first came out, I thought it would lose its steam like every other social media website. It would have its 15 minutes of fame, and then everyone would forget about it and move on to the next best thing.

I was definitely wrong. Facebook is constantly featured in news stories and blogs; there’s even a movie about it. It is the world’s largest social network, reaching one billion users in October 2012. All of the attention Facebook is receiving leads me to believe it will not lose its popularity anytime soon.

Although I am one of the billion people who use Facebook, I am not willing to pay for any of its services. In December 2012, Facebook did a message pay trial. The trial charged $1 to send a message directly to someone who is not on your friend list and $100 to directly message Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

In a Facebook press release it was noted that “imposing a financial cost on the sender may be the most effective way to discourage unwanted messages and facilitate delivery of messages that are relevant and useful.” Additionally, BBC reported in a Dec. 21, 2012, article that Facebook said, “The level of cost is likely to prevent spam or irrelevant messages.”

Facebook should be able to control spam without charging users. On the Facebook login page you can find the statement: “It’s free and always will be.” Charging a Facebook member to send messages contradicts that slogan. Google lets you text message and video message anybody for free. If Facebook plans on staying around and competing with Google, charging for certain kinds of messages doesn’t seem like a great idea.

In a Jan. 16 USA Today article, Jon Swartz reported Facebook’s plan to take on Google with a new feature called “Graph Search.” Swartz explains the feature is “designed to keep Facebook’s 1 billion users on the site, lure data-obsessed advertisers and make a dent in Google’s multibillion-dollar search machine.”

I believe Facebook will become more popular if it can compete with Google. Gartner analyst Brian Blau states in the USA Today article, “[Graph Search] will eventually affect any company that deals with a large amount of data.” If Blau is right, then Facebook is here to stay.

Business Insider reporter Owen Thomas states in a Jan. 27 article, “Facebook still can’t compete with Google at the end of the demand funnel.” However, I believe that Graph Search could be just the driving edge that Facebook needs to compete with Google and keep its steam.

Taneysha Howard is a junior in agricultural communications and journalism. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.