Facebook Launched Paid Online Events for Small Businesses

Facebook has launched a way for small businesses, creators, educators, and media publishers to earn money from the online events they host on Facebook. Page owners can create an online event, set a price, promote the event, and host the event, all in one place.

According to Facebook, combining marketing, payment and live video, paid online events meet the end-to-end needs of businesses. Pages can host events on Facebook Live to reach broad audiences, and Facebook is testing paid events with Messenger Rooms for more personal and interactive gatherings.

To me, the description Facebook gives this new feature sounds like it was influenced by COVID-19, and the limitations that small businesses are facing as a result. I also think Facebook had another reason for launching this now. Part of their post about it on Facebook Newsroom takes a swipe at Apple, and the company’s 30% App Store Tax.

Facebook makes it clear that they will not collect any fees from paid online events for at least the next year. For transactions on the web, and on Android in countries where Facebook has rolled out Facebook Pay, small businesses will keep 100% of the revenue they generate from paid online events.

We asked Apple to reduce its 30% App Store tax to allow us to offer Facebook Pay so we could absorb all costs for businesses struggling during COVID-19. Unfortunately, they dismissed both our requests and SMBs will only be paid 70% of their hard-earned revenue.

That’s definitely a “dig” at Apple – who is currently facing a lawsuit filed by Epic Games after Apple removed the iOS version of Fortnite from the App Store. The removal came after Epic Games added its own payment processing system into the iOS version of Fortnite. Apple appears to feel that in doing so, Epic Games violated Apple’s App Store guidelines.

It is good that Facebook is waiving the fees on the paid online events that businesses and creators host on Facebook. I find it interesting that Facebook promises to waive those fees for an entire year. It is unclear exactly what happens regarding those fees after that deadline ends.

Interestingly, Facebook appears to be taking this opportunity to try and paint itself as the “good guys” who just want to help out small businesses and creators. They look better than Apple does at the moment. The cynical part of me wonders if Facebook is attempting to use this situation as an opportunity to get out of the 30% App Store tax that Apple requires in order to allow Facebook Pay on the App Store.