Over the past several months, Facebook has been testing and rolling out new features for Facebook Credits - a virtual currency that collected and exchanged users' real-world money for on-site credits that could be used in many of the site's applications and social games.
Since its launch in May 2009, the system has rapidly evolved, and Facebook has now revealed their exact revenue split with game and app developers who integrate Credits. In a blog post today, product marketer Deborah Liu wrote, "Facebook will collect 30 percent of currency spent by users...We are committed to investing heavily in the ecosystem and will explore a number of ways to improve the program and increase conversion and net revenue."
This 30% cut is the same percentage that Apple's App Store takes from developers who submit paid apps and games for users of iPod and iPhone devices, and also the same percentage adopted by the Kindle Store.
Many of Facebook's most-used apps are partners in the closed beta for Facebook Credits, including Crowdstar, Playdom, Playfish, RockYou, 6waves and Zynga - makers of the infamous, popular and lucrative game Farmville.
Also, since last week, some users have been allowed to buy credits using Paypal, making the system even more viable for casual online gaming and social apps. This option has been rolled out so far to a small percentage of users and will be seen by more users within the next few weeks.
If the Credits program can be successfully rolled out for all users and applications, developers and Facebook are looking at a huge influx of cash - and users risk spending a lot more than just time on the site.
"By providing a single, cross-application currency," wrote Liu, "our goal is to making transactions simpler for users, leading to a higher conversion rate for developers.
"Specifically, our early testing has shown that users paying with Facebook Credits are significantly more likely to complete a purchase than the average Facebook user." This fact will surely please Facebook's investors - but what are the implications for Facebook users themselves?
Are users being manipulated unethically by an enormous and powerful marketing machine into spending more time - and now, more money - on applications of little real value? Or has Facebook simply found yet another way to make an honest buck on the Internet?
Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments.