Oh look… another instance of Facebook privacy eroding in front of your very eyes. The social network is testing a feature to allow Facebook Messages to be sent directly to a strangers inbox.
In a Facebook blog post today, the company says that it’s experimenting with the idea of letting non-connected users pay in order to have a message routed to your inbox instead of the “Other” folder (which most users don’t even know exists). Yup you heard that right, they’re going to let anyone bypass the “other” folder (which hardly anyone I know even knows exists) and dump a message right into your inbox. Facebook is, in essence going to someone not connected to you in any way pay to spam your Facebook Messages. Once again Facebook is tossing any notion of privacy out the window.
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.
This has probably already taken effect on your account but unless you drill into the full Messages section you won’t see the dialog explaining it to you. Click on the message icon and then on Messages at the bottom and you’ll be shown the notification with a link to “learn more”. In true Facebook style they’ve defaulted the setting to Basic Filtering for you. How nice of them. Select Strict Filtering and you’ll see mostly messages from friends in your inbox. Some messages from people you want to hear from may go to your Other folder.
Facebook responded to a CNET inquiry and replied, “A Facebook spokesman said that the paid-message feature is being rolled out to a small percentage of users in the U.S. who will receive, at most, one of these messages per week. “Brands can’t use this feature — not at the moment,” he said.” Key words being at the moment.