Facebook is testing a pay-for messaging service, effectively putting a price on filling up your inbox

facebook messaging settings

Facebook announced today that the social network is testing the option to pay for delivering messages that would otherwise appear in the “Other” folder (and go unnoticed) to the general Inbox with a limited number of users.

The Other folder exists to filter out messages from unknown senders that might be spam. For the most part Facebook does a pretty good job of weeding out junk messages. The criteria for filtering spam from important messages are both determined using social and algorithmic signals, says Facebook. Messages from friends, people you might know, or contacts separated by a mutual friend are the types of signals that would trigger messages to appear in your general inbox.

On some occasions, however, important messages can slip through to the Other inbox. Someone without any discernible relationship who is reaching out would be directed here — long lost friends or job recruiters, perhaps. These types of messages will go unnoticed since Facebook isn’t able to figure out the relevance of these types of relationships and there’s no alert or notification for Other inbox mail. To Facebook’s credit, the network has just rolled out an alert that notifies you about looking into how your Messages inbox works and who you see notes from. You can see what this looks like below, and it should start popping up when you access Messages. 

messages alert example

But if the feature is released publicly, a few dollars will provide a direct way of getting recipients’ attention, regardless of how close a connection exists between them and the sender. Facebook says a for-pay option might be an effective way to “discourage unwanted messages and facilitate the delivery of messages that are relevant and useful.”

In addition to this announcement, Facebook rolled out features that the social network was progressively working on to all users. Starting today, all users will have access to improved filters for manually selecting the types of messages that you want to appear in your inbox. There’s now a choice between “Basic Filtering” and “Strict Filtering.” When you see the alert above, you’ll be able to jump into these filtering options. 

Basic Filtering enables messages from first and second degree Facebook relationship to appear in your inbox, and Strict Filtering restricts messages that surface in your Inbox to those from just your Facebook friends.

Additionally, Facebook notes that messages from the following types of users may begin to appear in your inbox:

  • Someone using Messenger for Android, who is not on Facebook but has your contact info in their phone, [and] wanted to send you a message
  • A friend of a friend wanted to include you in a message about a party along with some of your mutual friends
  • A friend wanted to send a message to your @facebook.com address

For now during the limited testing, Facebook has placed a restriction on just one for-pay message to be sent to a user’s Inbox per week, but that restriction may be relaxed over the next few months based on the trial run’s outcome.