Facebook is displaying a new “Updates” sidebar module which shows some users unread messages sent to them by Pages. Users will see the Updates module in the right sidebar while viewing their own profile and other sections of the site. They can choose to view an update, mark it as read, or ‘x’ it to reveal another update. These updates are usually filtered into the Other folder of the inbox of the new Messages product.
The Updates module and counters will help prevent users from missing important Messages that Facebook had hidden in attempt to reduce noise in the primary inbox.
Since the Other folder doesn’t show red notifications upon a user receiving Messages that are routed there, it can be easy to forget the folder entirely. We discussed how the lack of an overt notification mechanism was one of the main deficiencies of the New Messages product, but Facebook has now moved to counteract the problem in an unobtrusive way.
Before the New Messages product was implemented and the inbox was split, Facebook began showing an Unread Messages sidebar module to similarly surface skipped content. By analyzing which updates users view, mark as read, or remove from the module, Facebook may be able to improve the Messages filtering algorithm to keep the best Page updates in the primary inbox.
As more businesses and users join Facebook, and malicious parties follow them, the site’s ability to filter out spam will become increasingly vital to maintaining a high quality experience. Simultaneously, Facebook will need to continue protecting users from losing good content to overly aggressive filters through products like the Updates module.