Facebook Tip Jar Could Be Bad News for Teens

Facebook logoHere’s a scenario that can’t happen in real life. Yet.

  1. Cute teen posts selfie to Facebook
  2. Random Facebook user clicks a button and send that teen $10
  3. Teen is pleased to have $10
  4. Random Facebook user sends teen a friend request
  5. ????

There are a few ways for an individual to make money on Facebook. The most obvious is selling stuff. Others exist but they’re pretty difficult to put into action.

A very good article at The Verge yesterday highlights a new development that could spell trouble for some young users – Facebook is considering more monetization options, including a “Tip Jar”.

It turns out the some users (verified users, i.e. having the blue check mark as a confirmed public figure) were sent a survey about how they use Facebook, and included was a section asking them about options to earn money from the platform.

Facebook tip jar
Source: The Verge

Options (pictured at right) include a tip jar, branded content, sponsor marketplace (sponsors pay users to post content), a donate button (to a cause favored by the author), call to action button (buy this thing I just posted on FB now), and revenue sharing of Facebook ads.

There are lots of journalists, authors, fan fiction writers and artists putting compelling content on Facebook, and we don’t see a problem with them being able to share in the riches. In fact, it should have happened by now.

We do think for teen users (and even younger users who skirt the age guidelines to join Facebook), a tip jar could be a problem in the way that kids who want to be YouTube famous encounter problems. Exposure to predators and being asked by viewers to perform in suggestive videos are things that can and do happen on YouTube. Young users may lack the judgment necessary to avoid dangerous situations.

Imagine a young Facebook user who is making money by posting photos. What is to keep a “customer” for asking for more pictures, or different pictures, perhaps by private message?

Since the survey appears to have been sent to verified users only, there’s no word if a monetization plan would be extended to average, or average younger users. We hope it won’t be.

We’re tempted to say that we would be okay with this if it were only offered to users 18 or older, but that won’t work either. As good as Facebook is at enforcing its community guidelines, it has no way of keeping under-13 users from joining, and has no way of knowing if a user is 19 or 14.

Much like Facebook’s rumored “dislike” button went in a very different direction, this might never see the light of day. We say no to the tip jar.



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