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Facebook testing auto-private messaging feature, so gear up for the complaints

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 2.38.45 PMIf there’s anything Facebook users have taught us, it’s that they are really, really opposed to redesigns. Every time Zuckerberg and his hoodied companions introduce a revamped look, certain users act like they’ve violently disemboweled the soul of the Internet. 

And there’s a new change coming to Facebook that’s relatively minor compared to the introduction of Timeline or the advent of Facebook Chat, but it might end up causing some embarrassment to people who don’t get the hang of it quickly, so expect uproar. TechCrunch reports that Facebook will be integrating messaging into its status update box — so instead of just having the option to post a status, you can start writing in the box and then just send it to a friend. We reached out to Facebook, but they haven’t commented on this new test, though TechCrunch says it has a variety of sources. 

Right now, messaging isn’t as front-and-center on the Facebook homepage as it could be. And you can tell that Facebook wants to prioritize messaging as a feature by the way it highlighted messages in Facebook Home. But this is wading into dangerous territory, since it seems like that would make it a lot easier for people to accidentally update their status with something they meant to go in a message. Just think about how many people have accidentally tweeted something atrocious when they thought they were DMing someone. I’m looking at Anthony Weiner and Allison Pill showing their junk to the world. Or Bret Easton Ellis accidentally tweeting what he meant to send to his drug dealer. Since Facebook is used as a way to private message far more frequently than Twitter, this makes it even more likely that we’re going to see some wholly inappropriate things go down while people figure out how to use this. 

So it remains to be seen whether Facebook will make additional changes to make sure that people don’t accidentally put private messages as statuses, but if they don’t, I’m looking forward to the Great Scandalous Facebook Status Controversy of 2013. And since Facebook doesn’t exactly have a stellar record with introducing changes to private communication, I think we might be gearing up for a silly time.