In its latest move to find ways to generate more revenue, Facebook said it is testing a feature that will let users pay to have messages show up in the inboxes of those who aren’t their friends.
Under the current structure, when you message someone who isn’t a friend and who has set settings to only receive messages from friends, the message goes to the “Other” inbox, which works kind of like a spam inbox.
But with the new feature, users can pay to have their messages show up in the regular inbox.
Facebook said the test is only for a small number of users in the U.S. The company said it is testing various prices for the pay-to-message feature, and a spokeswoman said the lowest price being tested is $1 per message.
“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,” Facebook said Thursday in a release. “For the receiver, this test allows them to hear from people who have an important message to send them.”
The test is sure to raise some eyebrows with privacy advocates and prompt worries that some users could abuse the feature.
As for permanent changes that are coming to all users, Facebook said it is updating its messaging settings.
For starters, Facebook said it will make it easier for people to adjust their message preferences by making them more visible on the messaging tab on the social network’s desktop website.
Additionally, the company said it is dumping the “everyone” setting and will have a new default setting, “Basic Filtering,” that will allow messages from friends, friends of friends and those you don’t know -- but only if Facebook deems the messages from an unknown sender to be relevant to you.
And if you previously had your preferences set to receive inbox messages only from your friends, that will now be called “Strict Filtering.”
Facebook said one reason it is making these changes is because people had complained that under the previous settings some messages they cared about were being directed to their Other inbox and were going unread.