Facebook to trial $1 charges for certain messages

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Facebook is set to introduce a $1 (£0.62) charge to send messages to people outside their circle of friends, but only if they want to deliver it straight into the recipient’s inbox – otherwise it will function as normal.

As it stands, sending a message to someone that you aren’t friends with, means it’ll end up in their “other,” folder, as opposed to the inbox, where messages from friends go. If you pay that $1 charge, your message will appear in the inbox instead. The idea being that this raises your awareness of that message.

“Today we’re starting a small experiment to test the usefulness of economic signals to determine relevance,” reads the blog post discussing the trial. “This test will give a small number of people the option to pay to have a message routed to the Inbox rather than the Other folder of a recipient that they are not connected with.”

According to Facebook, this is simply a way to “discourage unwanted messages and facilitate delivery of messages that are relevant and useful.” In non-marketing speak, that sounds more like, “make Facebook some money from companies that want to spam your inbox.”

It wouldn’t be the most effective way to go about it, since a dollar a person isn’t exactly a cheap way to market, but then again, neither are many other forms of advertising.

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Still Facebook claims that it’s not about that, but a way to get the attention of celebrities or job interviewers. “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.”

There’s is some restriction though, as people can’t receive more than one targeted message per week. That protects individuals, but wouldn’t stop a company paying a few grand to have private messages in a lot of people’s inboxes.

KitGuru Says: I might be being a bit cynical here, but I really can’t see why people just sending messages to non-friends would want to pay for an expedited message anyway. It’s not like they can do it for free now, so why would they start? It’s gotta be about marketing.

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