- Facebook last week began letting businesses, creators, educators and publishers make money by hosting online events on the social network, the company announced. The service is available to owners of a Facebook Page, which is a public profile for businesses, brands, celebrities, causes and other organizations.
- Page owners can host virtual events, promote them and collect payment from participants directly through the social platform. Alternatively, Page owners who want to reach a broader audience can livestream events through Facebook Live. The social network is testing paid events in its Messenger chat app, which has online "rooms" for more personal gatherings, per the announcement.
- Facebook asked Apple to waive its 30% fee on any in-app payment for an online event made through the App Store to help struggling small businesses, but the request was denied, according to Facebook. The social platform plans to waive its fees for paid online events for at least the next year.
Facebook's rollout of paid events is a positive development for small businesses and sole proprietors that seek to reach key customers in the absence of in-person gatherings during the pandemic. While bigger companies have the financial resources and manpower to host sophisticated online events, smaller organizations and individuals have fewer options to make money from their know-how. Those individuals can include educators who offer online lessons in art and cooking, or fitness trainers who can't meet clients at the gym.
The introduction of paid events can help to solidify Facebook's connection with millions of small businesses that advertise through its platform to reach target audiences. By allowing businesses, creators and publishers to monetize live events, Facebook can broaden the range of engaging content for users and give them another reason to return to its app and prolong their usage. Eventually, the company can generate income from fees on online events, though it's waiving those charges for now to give small businesses and individuals further incentive to create content on its platforms.
Facebook's complaint that Apple refused to waive its 30% fee on in-app payments is another sign of the growing conflict between the iPhone maker and companies that depend on the App Store to connect with customers. Facebook already changed its Facebook Gaming app to remove in-app games that would have generated online payments after Apple rejected the app. Instead, Facebook Gaming only shows gaming videos.
Meanwhile, Epic Games last week sued Apple and Google after the companies removed the game "Fortnite" from their app stores for violating their policies on in-app payments. Epic began offering discounts of as much 20% to Apple and Android users who paid directly instead of through the app store. With Google and Apple facing growing scrutiny from antitrust authorities, the lawsuit showcases the heightened tensions among the companies and app developers.