Facebook has been doing a lot as of late to improve their Messages product and to encourage more people to use it. Back in August, Facebook totally redesigned the look of Messages on desktop, giving it a new side-by-side view that put all of your conversations on the same page. They also made improvements to their Messenger for Android app that allowed users to sign up with just a name and a number - no Facebook account required.
Both of these improvements were warmly received. Other "improvements," such as that creepy "message seen" feature, were considerably less-appreciated. Either way, Facebook is trying, you have to give them that.
I'm not sure this latest test is going to help their cause.
Facebook is testing (note, testing) a product that will give users the ability to pay to ensure messages sent to other users outside their network reach that users' inbox, and not wind up in that "other" folder (Facebook's version of a spam folder). That means you can pay a small fee ($1) to bypass Facebook's messages sorting algorithms and place your message in the inbox of someone you don't know.
"Several commentators and researchers have noted that imposing a financial cost on the sender may be the most effective way to discourage unwanted messages and facilitate delivery of messages that are relevant and useful," says Facebook.
It could also be seen as Facebook letting people pay to spam you.
But Facebook said it could come in handy if you wanted to reach out to a potential employer, let's say, who wasn't your friend and who wasn't even in your network of friends. That's a good point, but it's unclear just how willing a users would be to pay to make sure someone simply sees their message in their inbox. I guess it would be the same population that would pay to promote their own post.
Of couse, this is just a test. Facebook does tons of tests all the time, and most of them never see primetime. But then again, they usually don't announce these tests in blog posts.
The pay-to-message test isn't the only announcement coming out of Facebook today. They've also added new filtering options to Messages. First, "Basic Filtering," which is pretty much the same as the previous "friends of friends" setting. Most of the message you'll see will come from your friends and people you may know.
Second, "Strict Filtering" simply allows for messages from friends to hit your inbox.
Facebook does say that some new types of messages may appear in your inbox that wouldn't before today:
With filters, the following types of messages may reach your Inbox that before would not:
Someone using Messenger for Android, who is not on Facebook but has your contact info in their phone, 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.
But it's these paid messages that I'm sure most users will be talking about. Facebook says that they will "continue to iterate and evolve Facebook Messages over the coming months."