Facebook Syndicates Personal Messages Sent With Friends Requests to the Inbox

When users include a personal message with a friend request, that message will now also appear in the Messages inbox of the recipient. Previously, these messages, which allow users to add context to a friend request, only appeared in the Requests channel. This made them easy to miss, especially since once a request was answered, the message was permanently deleted.

By syndicating these friend request personal messages to the Messages inbox, users are much more likely to see them and users will always have a copy, significantly reducing the likelihood of these sometimes important messages being lost.

Since the early days of the site, when users sent a Facebook friend request from the web version of the service, they could click a link in the request confirmation prompt to add a personal message. This could be used to inform the recipient of where they and the sender met, reference a mutual friend, or start a conversation. They weren’t shown in the Messages inbox, and weren’t visible in some native Facebook mobile apps, such as Facebook for iPhone.

Unfortunately, due to their lack of visibility and the fact that they were deleted when a request was answered, they could go unseen, leading the sender to assume the recipient was ignoring them. For example, let’s say two people met at a party and one sent the other a friend request accompanied by a personal message asking them on a date. If the recipient confirmed the request but didn’t see the message and therefore didn’t respond, the sender might think the recipient didn’t want to go on the date.

Now when users receive a friend request that includes a personal message, they’ll see red counters on both their Friend Requests and Messages channels in Facebook’s top navigation bar. They can view the personal message in either channel, and the Message inbox copy won’t be deleted if they answer the friend request.

This functionality change makes the friend request personal message much more useful, especially for those sending requests to people they don’t know as well, such as people they’ve met through social games. It will decrease the likelihood of legitimate friend requests being marked as spam, which can temporarily suspend a sender’s ability to send additional requests. It will also encourage users to accompany friend requests with conversation starters that can strengthen casual friendships and lead to more interaction on Facebook.

With this change to friend requests, the Download Your Information tool, and Facebook Chat exchanges being saved thanks to last year’s the upgrade to Messages, everything users write on Facebook will now be archived somewhere.