Facebook To Test New Paid Message Feature
December 21, 2012

Facebook Tests $1 Fee For Direct Inbox Access To Non-friends

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Facebook began testing a new feature on Thursday that lets members pay a small fee to have a message delivered directly to the Inbox of someone they're not connected with, rather than to the ℠Other´ folder.

“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,” Facebook said in a blog post.

The company provided a few examples of when members might find the new feature useful.

“If you want to send a message to someone you heard speak at an event but are not friends with, or if you want to message someone about a job opportunity, you can use this feature to reach their Inbox.”

The cost to the sender, in this case, is $1.

For the receiver, the test allows them to hear from people who have an important message to send, Facebook said.

The Inbox delivery test is only for personal messages between U.S. users, with the number of messages a person can have routed from their ℠Other´ folder to their ℠Inbox´ limited to one per week.

Facebook said imposing a fee on the sender was the most effective way to discourage unwanted messages, and facilitate delivery of messages that are relevant and useful.

But if the new feature proves popular, it could represent a new source of revenue for the social network.

Facebook also said it is tweaking the way members filter incoming emails and text messages, to ensure that relevant messages arrive at the Inbox, as opposed to the ℠Other´ folder — Facebook´s equivalent of the spam folder.

The company said it would be replacing the ℠Who can send me Facebook Messages´ setting with two new options for Inbox filtering: basic filtering, which allows messages from friends and other people a user may know, and strict filtering, which primarily allows messages only from friends.

Users who receive an Inbox message from someone they don't wish to hear from can always select “Move to Other” or “Report Spam” from the Actions menu.

The new filtering options should be appearing soon for U.S. users, Facebook said.