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Facebook Testing Pay-for-Placement Messages

Facebook's 2012 Highs And Lows
Facebook's 2012 Highs And Lows

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First you could pay $7 to promote a Facebook post. Soon you may be able to pay $1 to send a message to someone with whom you are not Facebook friends.

You can actually send a message now to a non-Facebook friend, but it will go into that person’s Other folder, rather than his or her inbox. But Facebook announced in a blog post yesterday that it is starting an experiment to test the usefulness of “economic signals” to determine message relevance. For a fee of $1, Facebook users can pay to have a message deposited in any user’s Inbox--friends or not.

Facebook is presenting the option as a way to more effectively filter messages. “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,” states the Facebook blog post. “This test is designed to address situations where neither social nor algorithmic signals are sufficient.”

The feature will be available only for messages between individuals. This prevents, it would seem, a major brand from spamming multiple users’ mailboxes. Spam is in the eye of the beholder, however, and one message from an unknown entity may be one message too many for Facebook users.

Facebook has recently made several changes to its messaging system, including new filtering mechanisms announced last month. Users can choose Basic Filtering, which shows mostly messages from friends and friends of friends, or Strict Filtering, which allows only messages from friends in users’ inboxes.

Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.

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