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Facebook Launches VIP App

Behind The Velvet Rope, A New And Better Facebook Awaits

Facebook has launched the Mentions app, a Facebook affiliated social network with one barrier to entry: you have to be famous.

The app is designed for ‘actors, athletes, musicians and other influencers’ (presumably including social media bloggers) to communicate with their fans and with each other without having to deal with the constant pressure that having a public Facebook profile entails or the relative distance which an official page implies.

Many are seeing this as a direct response to Twitter, and that network’s popularity among celebrities looking to maintain communication with their audience. Young people are leaving Facebook, and since the coveted 13-25 demographic are the tail to many a celebrity’s comet – it was well-known early adopters like Justin Bieber who led a mass of users to Instagram in its formative years – Facebook is presumably hoping that this will do something to halt the exodus.

The app will allow those permitted membership (you must have a verified public profile on Facebook to receive an invitation) to keep track of what’s trending, follow conversations about themselves, and hold live Q&As with their fans. Essentially Twitter, but with the added veneer of exclusivity and the presumably superior customer service that Facebook will provide.

Those who have already joined include Kim Kardashian, Mariah Carey, and Ed Sheeran. It’s still too early to say whether other celebrities will follow in their illustrious wake, or whether those who have already joined will find it’s worth sticking around. William Shatner has already published a diatribe against the app on competing social network Tumblr, pointing out particularly that Mentions requires new members to follow an existing member before they can access its features; in Shatner’s case it recommended former Star Trek colleague George Takei, with whom Shatner has maintained a bitter antipathy since he could last fit in a gold Starfleet shirt.

The new app is part of a flurry of releases Facebook has made in recent months, including the forced installation of the Messenger app on all phones with the Facebook app already installed and Instagram photo messaging app Bolt. It clearly forms part of a larger strategy to encourage users, including celebrities, to start considering mobile as the primary home for all things Zuckerberg-related. While Twitter maintains full desktop functionality, for example, Facebook-owned Instagram allows users to view their account on a computer while any actual changes or uploads must be done on a mobile device.

The general impression is that Facebook is attempting to lure celebrities back by providing a version of their site free of distractions like intrusive adverts, unwanted game invites, spam friend requests – all the things that us plebs have to put up with on a daily basis. Perhaps, if Facebook is looking to give users a reason to stay, they could begin by working on what people are actually complaining about rather than luring us in with the promise of a Q&A with Whoopi Goldberg.


Douglas is an English Literature graduate who has written about everything from music to food to theatre, now a content creator for Social Media Frontiers. No topic too large or too small. Follow him @DouglasAtSMF.

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Facebook Launches VIP App Reviewed by Anonymous on Wednesday, July 30, 2014 Rating: 5
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