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Facebook plans private tool for celebrities

Heather Kelly, CNN
Facebook wants celebrities to interact with their fans more on the networking site.
Facebook wants celebrities to interact with their fans more on the networking site.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Facebook is testing out a mobile feature for VIPs only according to AllThingsD
  • The tool would make it easier for the famous to talk to fans through the social network
  • Twitter is already very popular with celebrities and their handlers

(CNN) -- Poor, poor celebrities. It's probably overwhelming to be famous and on Facebook.

The volume of posts, comments, likes and mentions on any given day is vastly higher for well-known people than it is for mere mortals. Getting a grasp on the quick-moving chatter and knowing when to speak up takes effort.

Facebook is working on a new mobile tool that would make it easier for the VIPs to slog through the noise and better communicate with their fans, according to a report from AllThingsD.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed in an e-mailed statement that the company is working on "mobile features designed to help public figures interact with their fans" and said it was only testing them with a select group of people for now.

It's not clear how the feature makes it easier for the super-popular to sift through mentions from followers, or what was so difficult about doing it from the current mobile apps.

It's likely the feature will be useful to social media professionals more than actual celebrities. The more important the person, the smaller the chance that they are checking their own Facebook page to see what their friends are up to and post selfies.

It's common for a social media manager to use the social network on an actor or musician's behalf to post information about public appearances, carefully chosen snapshots and other updates.

The helpers aren't just there to save famous people time. Celebrities are lucrative brands that often depend on a carefully crafted and controlled public image. Facebook wants to be a place where they can manage that image.

Twitter has dominated as a platform where the famous can broadcast their latest news and have some casual back and forth with fans. Some high profile people do use the site to communicate all on their own, as evidenced by the many entertaining late night ramblings and Twitter fights.

Facebook has tried other Twitter-inspired features over the past year, including rolling out hashtags and offering verified pages to separate the impostors from the real public figures. The company is not shy about taking features that have been successful on other platforms and adding them to its own.

If Facebook can take over as a place where the famous go first to make an important announcement, or even a denial, it could ratchet up the company's reputation as a go-to news source. The association would also lend some additional "cool" to the site, which is edging into its older age (for a social network) and concerned about staying youthful and relevant.

But some folks online were complaining about the perceived elitist nature of special treatment for big shots.

"Dear Facebook: Put away the red carpet for celebs, we're happy with just friends," wrote Twitter user Tom Flowers.

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