Facebook testing paid message delivery system
20th Dec 2012 | 21:13
And implements some Messenger updates
Facebook invited a limited group of users Thursday to test a new feature that lets members of the social network message folks they aren't connected to for a fee.
The feature is being tested in the U.S. only at the moment, and for now the fee is set at a mere $1 to make sure your message is delivered to the recipient's inbox rather than the Other folder.
During this experimental phase, Facebook will try a variety of different prices in an effort to gauge what its users are willing to pay to have an important message delivered to someone in a situation where "neither social nor algorithmic signals are sufficient."
Currently, such algorithms are used to determine whether or not the users are actual friends of the person they're messaging, or friends of friends.
The feature can only be used once per week, and both the sender and the recipient must be active Facebook users (brands and pages are excluded) in the U.S.
Facebook believes charging a minimal fee will help relevant and important messages get through, while keeping unwanted and inconsequential queries from filling up inboxes.
Of course, what it also means for Facebook is a source of revenue, something the company has struggled to tie down. Just how much people are willing to spend to send a message we may never know if FB decides not to move forward with ubiquitous use, but it's an interesting play for profits nonetheless.
LinkedIn has a similar service with InMail, though that service is offered with premium accounts that users pay a monthly fee to run.
In addition to testing out the new pay-to-send system, Facebook also implemented some new filtering upgrades to the existing Messenger for everyone to use.
There are now two new filtering options available to allow users to better determine which messages make it through to their inbox or are automatically pushed to the Other folder.
Basic filtering will let through messages from friends, as well as friends of friends, to the inbox without interruption.
Strict filtering will only let messages from people users are actually connected to in the first degree to appear in the inbox.
Both sets of filters now better manage messages sent from Messenger for Android, or from people with @Facebook email addresses.
More updates are expected to come to Facebook Messenger in the coming months, and we'll keep a special eye out for that fee-based messaging system.