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Facebook Is Testing A Feature That Lets Complete Strangers Message You for a Dollar


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:

Basic 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.

Strict Filtering
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.

(via LifeHacker.)

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  • http://www.facebook.com/laurarccouto Laura Couto

    I just checked my Other folder after this article and found that some random dudebro sent me a seething misogynist rant six months ago. I wonder if people like this would think that pestering me is worth a dollar.

  • split

    A dollar is not nearly enough to discourage messaging when the recipient is a target of harassment or stalking. It’s especially Not Good for women, who are more vulnerable to such attacks. This is a really irresponsible plan, even dangerous, and sets a bad precedent for privacy on social networks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/salamurai Bruce Cole

    I don’t see an “Other” folder, but I do see a “Pages” link … which
    is apparently where all the stuff I used to see in my timeline that
    isn’t from direct friends (i.e. entities & media that I’ve “liked”)
    has been going. I wondered why George Takei hasn’t been posting lately.

  • http://twitter.com/ChannelDiza Chanel Diaz

    This should ONLY be Allowed if the Recipient gets the DOLLAR on their Choice. This is going to end badly. And to think, in a time when I thought Facebook was taking CyberBulling Seriously.

    Nope, Insulting Marginalized Groups is the NEW THING to get Rich off of. I can just Imagine some Kid Committing Suicide with ALL the Negative Messages, but Facebook says something like, “we didn’t mean for this tragedy to happen,” “we were only trying to help,” and, “All proceeds go to Anti-Bullying Organizations in their Honor…”

    Blood Money, People.

  • http://twitter.com/ChannelDiza Chanel Diaz

    Maybe Instead of a Dollar, it should be: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l91ISfcuzDw

  • http://twitter.com/ribbonquest Rachel Banzhaf

    “That kid would have gotten tons more bullying messages but our new pay system discouraged them! Facebook prolonged his life!!”

  • http://twitter.com/ChannelDiza Chanel Diaz

    LOL.

  • linda petersen

    Been using Google+ more and more. Doesn’t pretend to be more than it is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/zeonchar Amanda M. Ramsey

    Ugh, this is a horrible idea. As someone who has a stalker, $1 is a paltry sum for them to get in contact with the person they are stalking. Blocking someone’s page won’t work, since they will just make a new one to message you with. I cannot state enough how mad I am at this. I do not need anymore online harassment.

  • http://unwarr.blogspot.com/ Redmond Jennings

    I like G+ much more and wish someone else I knew used it.

  • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

    Is the author of this article completely stupid? Facebook previously allowed *ANYONE* to message you for FREE (unless your privacy settings prevented that). The $1 fee has been added to disincentivize spamming.

    Do your homework next time.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    You might want to do some homework, previously you could set it so only friends could message you. This changes that. They can pay to message you regardless of settings.

  • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

    Still an overreaction. Anyone can call your number or send you mail too. Or they can just see you out, follow you and show up at your door. None of the above require Facebook per se. If you don’t wanna receive a message from someone, block them.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    It’s not a good idea to call something that may involve stalking an overreaction. It may not be a bit deal to you, in which case, why bother telling others they shouldn’t worry?

  • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

    There’s a difference between harassment and stalking. Someone could send you harassing messages, but at $1 a pop it gets expensive fast, and you can block them anyway. As for stalking, it’s impossible to determine someone’s location or follow them purely from sending them a Facebook message.

    My point is that: on deeper analysis, anyone can see that the new policy is basically a non-issue.

  • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

    previously you could set it so only friends could message you.

    You did see where I said “unless your privacy settings prevented that,” right?

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    I’m not sure why you’re finding the need to tell people it’s not a big deal. You obviously do not understand what is involved in stalking, if you did, you wouldn’t be speaking this way. The new policy is not a non-issue, if it was, we wouldn’t have written about it. There’s no need to keep going back and forth, you don’t think it’s a big deal, ok, we do.

  • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

    The new policy is not a non-issue, if it was, we wouldn’t have written about it.

    That’s circular reasoning. Ever taken an argumentation class?

    Here’s a worst case scenario:

    - Escaped convict sees Jane’s profile on FB and pays $1 to message her. She previously was set to “friends only” for messaging, so his message goes straight to “other” and she never sees it

    OR

    - Jane sees the message and blocks him, so that now he has no way of contacting her via Facebook.

    There’s no “magic” about technology, Jill. There is *no way* the new policy enables anyone to stalk or follow you on Facebook. Period.

    If you happen to think of some way anyone can follow or stalk someone via a Facebook message, go ahead and tell us. But don’t create imaginary bogeymen.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    You have heard of IP masking yes? People find a way. Again, there’s not a reason to keep this going, you don’t think it’s a big deal, don’t bother commenting.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    Have a wonderful night, sir, and life.

  • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

    You have heard of IP masking yes?

    Yes, but that has no bearing on the conversation as IP masking doesn’t enable its user to determine the IP addresses of other users any more than wearing a real life mask enables you to see through other people’s clothes

    People find a way.

    ? This is like saying people can find a way to reverse gravity. It’s not possible. You canNOT determine anyone’s location from sending them an FB message. Period.

    ou don’t think it’s a big deal, don’t bother commenting.

    I’m standing for reason and against alarmism.

  • Anonymous

    i’M REALLY UPSET ABOUT THIS … LIKE SOME OF US DON’T WANT RANDOM STRANGERS MESSAGING US LIKE WHERE IS OUR PRIVACY ??? SO UPSET WITH THIS MOVE ….. I HAD MY MESSAGES BLOCKED FOR A REASON .. IT’S OUR RIGHT TO CONTROL WHO CAN CONTACT US PERSONALLY … WHY GIVE US THAT AND TAKE IT BACK … WRONG MOVE ….

  • Anonymous

    i’M REALLY UPSET ABOUT THIS … LIKE SOME OF US DON’T WANT RANDOM STRANGERS MESSAGING US LIKE WHERE IS OUR PRIVACY ??? SO UPSET WITH THIS MOVE ….. I HAD MY MESSAGES BLOCKED FOR A REASON .. IT’S OUR RIGHT TO CONTROL WHO CAN CONTACT US PERSONALLY … WHY GIVE US THAT AND TAKE IT BACK … WRONG MOVE ….

  • KrisD

    Oh man Laura, that happens to me too. I have learned just to stay away from that other folder. They probably would pay a dollar for it because they think their opinions and ‘proving you wrong’ is so damn worth it. Creeps.

    Also like the use of dudebro there. haha

  • KrisD

    If you click on the ‘messages’ tab to the left underneath ‘newsfeed’ there are two options you should see at the top left of the page that says ‘inbox’ and ‘other’

  • KrisD

    I think I agree with you jdrch. I understand that cyber bullying and cyber stalking are a REAL problem, no argument there. However, I get weirdo messages from people all the time. I have learned to ignore that little ‘other’ folder, as it never has ANYTHING good in it. If I do get a message I delete it, if I really don’t like the message then I block that person and they no longer exist in my little Facebook world. That block option has done me a great deal of good in life, I love it. If some idiot wants to waste a dollar to ask me if I am DTF then let him, because it is just going in the trash can anyway.

    I don’t think most stalkers have unlimited budgets to send messages anyway. Stalking takes up a lot of time, makes it hard to manage people’s hedge funds in a 9-5 when you are in a basement mouth-breathing, looking up attractive women for 12 hours straight.

  • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

    Thanks for the support @KristiDee23:disqus. It’s nice to meet someone else on the Internet who’s capable of logical thought as opposed to panicking about stuff they clearly don’t understand.

  • KrisD

    Other people are entitled to their opinions and thoughts now my friend. Be nice. Haha