In what might be an attempt to lure celebrities off Twitter, Facebook's Mentions app promises to make it easier for 'actors, athletes, musicians and other influencers' to interact with fans
Urban music sensation Ed Sheeran is the first Brit to have received an invite to Facebook's version of the VIP area: Mentions, the celebrities-only Facebook app. The Suffolk-born singer-songwriter now stands alongside the likes of Mariah Carey, Arianna Huffington and Kim Kardashian.
Mentions, open only to "actors, athletes, musicians and other influencers", allows celebrities to see messages and shares relating to them and reply, as well as post updates and take part in live chats. They also won't be plagued by ads, newsfeed spam or BuzzFeed quizzes imploring them to find out what sort of soup they are. A cynic might wonder if Facebook had spotted Twitter cornering the "chatting directly with celebrities" market and responded by giving them their very own "reply to your fans" app.
So, are you famous enough for Mentions? Any Facebook user can download the app and search for talk of a celebrity, but only invited celebrities with pages verified by Facebook in the US can post responses. (They plan to launch the service in more countries in the "near future".) Public figures can download Mentions and request access, but it's very much a "don't call us, we'll call you" membership, which Facebook says it will limit to "a few thousand" people.
It may be regretting inviting William Shatner, though, after the actor posted a grumpy review on his Tumblr when the app invited him to follow former Star Trek co-star George Takei. Clearly it had not been briefed about the pair's long-standing feud.
Shatner also took umbrage with the fact that members must follow other celebrities in order to set up the app. "I think that is a flaw," he said. "I'm already following those who I want to follow – why insist I follow that short list of others?" We're with you, Mr Shatner. That sounds absolutely awful. You have our not-at-all-sarcastic pity for this grave injustice.
Thanks to Sheeran's gracious acceptance, we have a Brit behind the velvet rope. But he, too, has his reservations. His spokesman told the Sunday Times that the system is "bonkers" and that Ed "just wants to talk directly with his fans as he can on Twitter. We shall see if he keeps using it."
That's the thing about the VIP area. Sometimes, when you get there, you realise the floor is sticky, the drinks are overpriced, and you'd rather just be on Twitter.
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