The word “paywall” is one of many we use to describe aspects of digital experiences that reveal how we metaphorically think of them as places. A wall is a barrier, and with a “pay” wall we erect a financial barrier between parts of an information environment. We use the word most often in the context of journalism, where publications such as the Wall Street Journal have adopted it as their primary business model online.
Back in June, Facebook announced that they’re experimenting with “subscription groups,” giving admins the ability to set up paywalls for their Facebook groups. According to a post on The Verge, admins will be able to charge between $4.99 – $29.99 per month for membership in groups. Facebook is positioning the pilot as a way for group administrators to get rewarded for managing their communities. The company has tested advertising to groups in the past; I’m glad to see it exploring sources of revenue beyond selling the attention of its users.