Facebook Adds Filtering To Messages, Tests Paid Service

By Justin Lafferty 

Facebook released an update to its messaging system Thursday, adding a filtering system and introducing a paid service for U.S. users who want to get in touch with someone they are not friends with. The filtering system makes it so only messages from friends show up in the inbox, while all others are sent to the “other” folder.

As users complained to Facebook that the, “Who can send me Facebook messages?” setting was inefficient, the site found a way to address these concerns. Facebook introduced two filtering systems: basic and strict. Under basic filtering — the default setting for those who currently had set the privacy of messages to friends of friends or everyone — users will see messages in their inbox from friends, as well as from people they may know, such as friends of friends.

With strict messaging, only messages from people with whom the user has a direct connection will show up in the inbox. People who are not on the user’s friends list, but try to contact the user, will show up in the “other” folder.

These new filtering settings allow users to receive messages in their inboxes from users such as someone using Messenger for Android who has their contact info but is not a friend, friends of friends who want to include them in a group message, and friends who sends message to users’ Facebook.com email addresses.

Facebook is also seeing if people would pay to have urgent messages delivered. The site launched a test for U.S. users who would pay a small fee to send a message to someone with whom they are not connected. Facebook feels that this will cut down on unwanted messages:

Several commentators and researchers have noted that imposing a financial cost on the sender may be the most effective way to discourage unwanted messages and facilitate delivery of messages that are relevant and useful.

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.

Readers: How else could Facebook improve its messaging system?

Main image courtesy of Shutterstock. Screenshot courtesy of Facebook.