Facebook Opens Up Your Inbox to Strangers (for $1 per Message)

If you haven’t been to your Facebook “Messages” tab lately (since Wednesday, December 19, 2012, to be exact), go ahead — log into your Facebook profile and navigate to that tab. Upon doing so, you will see the following message (highlighting mine):

So, “now anyone can message you” — whether you know the person or not; and Facebook has announced this “update to messaging” in yesterday’s blog post. Here’s an excerpt from it:

Today we’re starting a small experiment to test the usefulness of economic signals to determine relevance. This test will give a small number of people the option to pay to have a message routed to the Inbox rather than the Other folder of a recipient that they are not connected with.

Several commentators and researchers have noted that imposing a financial cost on the sender may be the most effective way to discourage unwanted messages and facilitate delivery of messages that are relevant and useful.

This test is designed to address situations where neither social nor algorithmic signals are sufficient… This message routing feature is only for personal messages between individuals in the U.S. [source]

As you can see from the above screenshot, before this change strangers could also message us, but all their messages would land in the “Other” folder. Now you may see them in the “Inbox” instead.

Reuters adds:

A Facebook spokesman said the charge for the test is $1 per message, but added that the company is still looking for the “optimum” price. Users can only receive one of these paid, re-routed messages per week, he noted. [source]

Yesterday after Jill Whalen’s Tweet based on my earlier Tweet on the subject, an array of reactions followed. Here are just a couple of them:



What do you make of it?

Keep in mind, also, that less than two months ago Facebook crossed 1 billion users threshold and it now engages “nearly half of the world’s Internet users” [source].