Would You Pay to Use Social Media?

Social network start-up App.net wants to eliminate annoying ads by charging users a yearly fee, but will they pay?

By Vince Lattanzio
|  Tuesday, Aug 14, 2012  |  Updated 3:10 PM EDT
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Would You Pay to Use Social Media?

NBC10 Philadelphia/Screenshot

Screenshot of App.net, a new, paid-for social network being positioned as an ad-free alternative to Facebook and Twitter.

Would you pay to connect socially with friends online? A start-up called App.net is betting some people will -- and some already have.

Billing itself as a “real-time social feed without the ads,” the Twitter-like service just finished raising $750,000 to get off the ground. The money came from people vying to become members and developers on the service.

For $50, regular Joes get a yearlong membership. Those who’d like to develop applications using App.net as a base only need to pay $100 a year.

App.net founder Dalton Caldwell says he’s disappointed with services like Twitter and Facebook that focus on making money through advertisements.

“If we’re selling a service, our customers are our users and our job is to make our users happy,” he says in a video posted to the site. “If we have a free, ad supported service, our job is to make the advertisers happy.”

Facebook users are served up targeted ads on the right side of the site as well as intermittent sponsored stories in their news feeds. On Twitter, there are promoted tweets that show up in searches and plenty of spam accounts that can frustrate users.

Such situations will never be the case with App.net, says its founder.

The site is currently in its Alpha phase -- which means people can sign up to join, but there’s no guarantee you’ll get in right away. Take a look and see if it’d be worth opening up your wallet. 

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