Facebook Messages are a seemingly simple offering by the social media giant that the company still manages to make somehow complicated. Messages, mobile messages, Facebook email, the Other folder… You mean, you don’t know there’s an Other folder? I don’t blame you, it’s practically invisible.
So, the headline for this post that is way too long to actually use might look like this Facebook Is Still Overhauling Its Messaging System Like Every Six Months, Might Change it So Strangers Can Pay $1 to Send You a Noticeable Message.
Facebook posted an formal update to the way its messaging system works today. But first lets talk about how things currently stand. Whether you choose to receive messages from everybody, friends and friends of friends, or just friends, the quiet secret of Facebook Messages is that there’s an Other folder where everything that Facebook thinks you probably aren’t that interested in goes. Facebook thinks it hasn’t been particularly effective, partly because it’s not immediately obvious where it is or that it exists in the first place (messages that get put in the Other folder don’t trigger notifications). So their solution is to do away with the three distinctions of who can send you messages and let anybody with a Facebook account send you messages.
Now, we just get to choose whether those messages wind up languishing in the Other folder or get notifications. From their news post:
There are two options for new Inbox filtering:
If you select Basic Filtering, you’ll see mostly messages from friends and people you may know (for example, friends of friends) in your Inbox. People who had the previous setting set to “friends of friends” or “everyone” will have Basic Filtering on.
If you select Strict Filtering, you’ll see mostly messages from friends in your Inbox. People who had the previous setting set to “friends” will have “Strict Filtering” on.
So now there’s even less reason to ever look inside your Other folder. “But you still haven’t gotten around to people paying to send messages that ping my Facebook notifications,” you say. Right. Facebook, like many other sites, is still looking for ways to monetize a service that everybody is used to not paying for. Whether this will help them out any remains to be seen. They’re currently testing out a service that would allow individuals (so, fan pages wouldn’t be able to) to send a message that gets stuck in the main messaging inbox when it would otherwise go straight to Other once a week, for the fee of one dollar.
Facebook believes that the small fee is the “most effective” way to discourage unwanted messages, and they might be right. But a day ago, the best way for a user to discourage unwanted messages would be to tell Facebook they didn’t want to talk to any strangers. You can read more about the changes in detail right here.