Want to send me a Facebook message? But you’re not my Facebook friend? Pay up.
Facebook today announced refinements to its Messaging filters, as well as a test for a very small portion of American users to determine if they’ll pay to contact people they aren’t Facebook friends with.
The test doesn’t come at a great time for Facebook, which is in the middle of dealing with a flurry of bad press from changes to Instagram’s terms of service earlier this week.
Facebook is going to test market a new option that will allow individuals to have a message routed directly to the inbox of someone whom they are not connected to for a fee of $1.
The way it works now, such a message goes directly to the Other folder, where it will likely never be seen. This new feature allows posting directly to the recipient’s inbox, increasing the likelihood it will be seen and read.
There will now be several filters and users will be able to select whether certain messages go to the inbox or to the other folder. The new settings include Basic Filtering and Strict Filtering and they will allow better control over messages that are sent from people outside your friends list.
Previously, Facebook’s messaging privacy settings were cut and dry. You set your inbox to allow messages from everyone, friends of friends, or friends only.
Any sender that didn’t qualify had their messages dumped in the “Other Inbox”, a little known sub-tab of the Inbox that most people rarely checked if ever.
The All Things D reports, Facebook says the changes are primarily designed to let Facebook users who already know each other make sure their missives connect. But the most interesting part of the move is what the social network is calling a “a small experiment to test the usefulness of economic signals.”
Here’s Facebook’s rationale for the move:
“This test is designed to address situations where neither social nor algorithmic signals are sufficient. For example, 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.
For the receiver, this test allows them to hear from people who have an important message to send them.”
This whole thing actually means that Facebook is selling access to your inbox — which you previously could have kept closed to anyone you don’t know — to the outside world.
The company is now publically traded and some fear that any fee, however small or benign it may seem, is the first step toward Facebook charging fees to all of its users.
The company now has to be concerned with shareholders, profits, and other financial measurements and this could be step one in a financial plan that will eventually add fees to everyone.