Your high school bully’s baby. A university classmate’s use of their status as a diary. An old co-workers poetry. Your third cousin’s borderline racist political views. Your ex-boyfriend’s sister’s inspirational quotes. Your mum tagging you (most weeks) in The Names Who Are Going To Become Parents in 2018. And of course – the fake news.

It is widely accepted Facebook’s drop in popularity with younger demographics is because of its endless scroll of content they don’t want to see. So now, Zuckerberg wants you to pay for it. Wait, what?

Yeah, that’s right. A new subscription service is being tested which invites users to pay for premium content – AKA buy stuff they actually want to see. Facebook is starting to let Group admins charge between USD$4.99 and USD$29.99 per month for access to special sub-Groups full of exclusive posts.

Essentially, admins of existing Facebook Groups can set up premium subgroups that are supported with a monthly subscription feature, and a hand-picked array of parenting, cooking and “organize my home” Groups will be the first to get the chance to charge their members via Facebook.

Techcrunch explains how during the test, Facebook won’t be taking a cut of the subscriptions, but because the feature bills through iOS and Android, those companies get their 30 percent cut of a user’s first year of subscription and 15 percent after that. But, Techcrunch suggests, if Facebook eventually did ask for a revenue share, it could finally start to monetize the Groups feature that’s grown to more than 1 billion users.

According to Facebook Groups product manager Alex Deve – the move is not about making money. Before you roll your eyes too much, this is the reasoning: “The fact that there will be funds coming out of the activity helps them create higher-quality content.”

The move is the latest by FB to help users monetize their content. Between subscriptions, ad revenue shares and sponsored content partnerships – a cynic may call it the latest blatant attempt to hold onto users…

There is many-a-take being offered on this proposed new move, some say Facebook is actually a bit late to the party and some groups already charge membership – just not through the site. Others, like Techcrunch, see value in the idea: “While we spent the last few decades of the consumer internet scarfing up free content, creativity can’t be a labor of love forever. Letting creators earn money could help them turn their passion into their profession and dedicate more time to making things people love.”

And other others, like the Verge, are taking a bit of a wait-and-see approach:  “While in the past, Facebook groups have always been free, charging for a membership might heighten the sense of exclusivity and make a group feel more special to be in. A paywall may also just drive more people away.”

As shrewd-yet-optimistic social media gurus, at Mosh we are interested to see exactly what content admins will charge for – and whether members will find it valuable. Especially since Facebook famously *coughfakenewscough* abandoned its attempts to become a publisher – is this just the same goal in slightly different clothing? Or is this the reckoning of the age of free content?

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