If you are jealous because your friend has 1,000 more followers than you on Facebook, then you're in luck. For just 7.6 cents each, you can have a whopping 5,000 new friends, thanks to uSocial, a marketing firm in the business of making people look far more connected than they are. (The firm launched similar package earlier this year by selling twitter followers as well as allowing people to buy Diggs and Yahoo! Buzzes). What does this would mean for the future of social networking?

  • Now Who Needs Spam? writes Brennon Slattery in PC World. "The idea is that Usocial creates a Friends List of potential customer to market to via Facebook updates and mail. With Facebook friends like that, who needs spam. I couldn't find information on becoming a 'member' and selling your friendship. I suspect all these Facebook users selling their accounts to Usocial are normal well adjusted Internet users looking to form a meaningful relationship with a couple hundred marketers."
  • Forced Friendships Don't Work, writes Cheryl Phillips in the Examiner. "All of this legal-ese aside, are friends or 'fans' truly interested in what you are marketing if they didn't discover you the old fashioned way? Forced friendships never seem to work in the real world so it will be interesting to see how it pans out online."
  • Offer Won't Last Long, according to Jennifer Van Grove in Mashable. "Of course, as long as there is social currency in having friends and followers, there will be services that exploit people’s desires to build up their networks. But, you can bet on those Facebook friends that uSocial’s scheme won’t last too long. Facebook is likely to follow in the footsteps of Digg and Twitter and move to shut the service down as soon as they get wind of it."
  • Why? asks Aileen Yoo on The Scavenger. Answer: Michael Jackson's family, Korea's tourism department, the Mormon Church and the U.S. Marines and a bacon company. "Let's say a bacon company buys the premium 5,000-pal package. USocial logs in to the firm's Facebook profile or creates a new one, trolls for thousands of strangers with similar interests -- perhaps people who attend Bacon Camp or drink bacontinis -- and then sends these pork devotees a friend request," Yoo says. 
Amid the many questions about this new service, one thing is certain: money can most certainly buy friends--at least virtual ones. Take that, loneliness.