Announced within an official staff post, Tumblr plans to release a version of private messaging called “Fan Mail” which will allow Tumblr users to send private, personalized notes to other Tumblr bloggers. Rolling out over the next few days for all Tumblr bloggers, users will be able to find the new option at the top corner of followed blogs, in avatar drop-down menus and within the Tumblr inbox. Messages have been designed to have a unique visual style and appear in a handwriting font on a graphic of a sheet of notebook paper. Prior to Fan Mail, Tumblr users had to rely on a public email address to send another Tumblr user a message.
CEO David Karp showed off the new feature by writing a private message to Tumblr users. In the note, he states “I’m very pleased to introduce Fan Mail, a beautiful new way to share those sweet, inspiring, or otherwise thoughtful notes with your favorite bloggers. Enjoy!” While the CEO is encouraging users to send positive messages, the private messaging system could also be abused to send critical or inflammatory messages to other Tumblr users. Tumblr officials haven’t indicated if bloggers will be able to block other users from sending messages or report users that repeatedly harass other Tumblr users with negative messages. The company also hasn’t indicated if there will be multiple designs to note backgrounds when sending a new message.
Tumblr currently has over 39 million blogs on the service that contain approximately 15 billion blog posts. While the company recently raised $85 million during a round of funding during September 2011, the blogging service wasn’t included in the Top Ten list of sites that drive social traffic to other sites according to Experian Hitwise. However, a similar visual site called Pinterest has been rapidly gaining traffic over the last two years.