back to article Facebook tests feature to let strangers pay to message you

Facebook users may soon start seeing more messages in their Inboxes, thanks to a new pilot program that allows users to pay a fee to send personal messages to people with whom they have no direct connection. Ordinarily, a Facebook user's Inbox will only display messages from friends and people the user might know, such as …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Mike Flugennock

    Oh, for cripes' sake...

    So, what's the goddamn' deal with Farcebook, anyway? Are they that desperate to show their shareholders they can be profitable? Are they in some kind of competition to see which site can piss off the most users? Both?

    "A small test", huh? Does this mean that if they decide it'll piss off enough users, they'll roll it out worldwide?

    Great, stonking waves of paid-for opt-out spam in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1...

    1. Ru

      Re: Oh, for cripes' sake...

      Doesn't Linked In already provide this sort of facility, so recruiters can spam you?

      It isn't like Facebook is even being particularly clever or original with their plans for irritation and moneymaking.

      1. Mike Flugennock

        Re: Oh, for cripes' sake...

        Doesn't Linked In already provide this sort of facility, so recruiters can spam you?

        I have a LinkedIn account, which I have locked down tighter than my great aunt's corset in terms of who can contact me and why -- especially recruiters. I've been on there for about three years, and haven't gotten any spam from recruiters yet (knock on wood). The only notification emails I've gotten have been from other people in my line of work. I've only "connected" with one or two of them; usually when I check out the profiles, they're sparsely filled out or nearly blank, so I throw them onto the block list.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Oh, for cripes' sake...

          Actually, we've implemented a policy which specifically "unlinks" anyone in a public network we work for - Xing, LinkedIn, FB, Google+. We do high grade privacy, and LinkedIn is a serious data leak. As an experiment, kill off all the filters you have set and see just how much intel you get from everyone if they as much as twitch - LinkedIn sends everything to everyone, all you can do is filter what you receive, but the only control you have over what LinkedIn broadcasts to all and sundry is not providing LinkedIn with it.

          I can see why people need it for work, but our clients like discretion, not a public broadcast..

    2. LarsG


      Yes to all you prospective STALKERS out there, you pays your money and hey presto you can now message those people who defriended you because of your deviant behaviour.

      Only 50 cents a poke and that's no joke.

  2. Azzy

    If you're charging people money to message me, give me a damned cut of it. Let's split it 50:50?

    Doesn't facebook have a microtransaction system to pay for games and crap? Even if we got paid in facebook funnymoney, that'd be a nice gesture.

    1. MrXavia
      Thumb Up

      I like that plan, pay me to look at advertising messages!

    2. Vulch
      Thumb Up

      I'd be happy...

      ...To go through an inbox once in a while deleting unread junk at 50p a pop.

    3. Ole Juul


      I don't see any reason why Facebook should get a cut.

    4. Shannon Jacobs

      Wet my beak, eh?

      I agree that they should give the users a percentage, and of course it should be an opt-in service.

      Having said that, four more obvious wrinkles (that I've been advocating for some years):

      (1) Allow me to record what I'm currently interested in buying, but without disclosing any direct link to me in public.

      (2) Allow me to put a limit on how much advertising I'm willing to receive.

      (3) Auction my time within that limit to the highest bidders.

      (4) Use some of the profits to guarantee no spam. In other words, if I get any spam, they would pay a penalty out their share, so they would have a real incentive to work hard to put the spammers out of business.

  3. Mike Flugennock

    Oh, maaa-aaan, they really got this one wrong...

    Conversely, if the message contains spam...then nobody would ever be willing to pay to make sure it gets through to you. Or that's the theory, anyway...

    ...except for the thousands of spam-for-hire outfits who'll simply adjust their budgets to include delivery of X number of copies of their clients' drek Farcebook users' message boxes.

    1. dssf

      Re: Oh, maaa-aaan, they really got this one wrong...

      This is one reason why I last week or so ago called FB "faecebook", but, boy did I take a HELL of a resounding pummeling, to the tune of over 100 down thumbs....

      I agree. FB should pay either in cash or funny money. But, I've also locked down my privacy settings to be that I can only receive emails from friends. What gives fb the right to override my wish?

      Surely, there are othr business models fb can pursue...

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: Oh, maaa-aaan, they really got this one wrong...

        What gives fb the right to override my wish?

        The T&Cs you agreed to when you started using it.. As I keep saying, "free" never is.

      2. VinceH

        Re: Oh, maaa-aaan, they really got this one wrong...

        "This is one reason why I last week or so ago called FB "faecebook", but, boy did I take a HELL of a resounding pummeling, to the tune of over 100 down thumbs...."

        I thought I replied to someone on here recently who had referred to FaceBook as FaecesBoook, saying that I tend to call it FarceBook, but liked FaecesBook better so I'd adopt that. Wondering if it was you and the post you mentioned, I looked back through my own posts. I can't seem to find it, though, so perhaps it was somewhere else entirely.

        "I agree. FB should pay either in cash or funny money. But, I've also locked down my privacy settings to be that I can only receive emails from friends. What gives fb the right to override my wish?"

        Quite so. However, not only are my privacy setting such that only freinds can send me messages, I occasionally post a status reminding them that I don't even want *them* to do so. I really dislike FaecesBook's crappy messaging system, and would much rather they contact me by email, text message or phone (in that order of preference).

        And from the article itself:

        "In other words, if a Facebook user is actually willing to pay to make sure another user sees their message, then the message is probably "important" and deserves to be delivered to the recipient's Inbox, rather than the Other folder."

        Such a message might get delivered to my inbox, but the sender would still have wasted their money, because it won't be seen or read. If I receive a message, when I spot the notification, I go to my inbox to clear it, and immediately navigate away; I don't actually read the message. (My next task is usually to post a status update reminding people not to send me messages on FaecesBook.)

        1. ADJB

          Re: Oh, maaa-aaan, they really got this one wrong...

  4. Tony S

    Check the numbers

    1 dollar a message?

    How much is stamp in the USA these days?

    1. User McUser

      Re: Check the numbers

      The United States Postal Service charges 45¢ for 1st class letters of up to 1oz (~28 grams) for delivery within the US (including the freak states and APO/AFO.)

    2. Tom 35

      Re: Check the numbers

      Don't worry, they will have a discounted per 1,000 rate soon.

  5. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    Surprised? Really?

    Come on, you must be kidding if you say you didn't see this coming! What do you think Faecesbook has always been about? It's a big, captive, spam list. Get the lusers hooked on "tell the World how important you think you are", then sell access to all the idiots, many of whom will have cheerfully put a goldmine of marketing information about themselves and their families/mates, all out on view. Seriously, anyone that didn't realise this was coming needs to be kept away from property purchases or they'll soon be living in the Evergrlades.

    1. Mike Flugennock

      Re: Surprised? Really?

      Appalled beyond measure, yes. Surprised? Hell, no, man; are you kidding? My only surprise is that it took 'em this long.

  6. nuked

    Great Idea

  7. frank ly

    I wonder what it feels like to be pimped out by Zuckerberg

    Just wondering. I'll never walk that particular street.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As long as I...

    ... get to say "fuck off" back for free.....

    1. dssf

      Re: As long as I...

      The only way I suspect that you could get satisfaction is if the recipient replied with your quoted "fuck off". Otherwise, for all we know, fb would just in advance set up a word substitution algorithm to soften your response. Your gratification would be truncated or unfulfillable end-to-end.

      Does the plan include making sure that locked down privacy-set accounts are going to be be pay-mail-bombed, too?

    2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

      Re: As long as I...

      As long as I get to say "fuck off" back for free

      Don't. You must treat this like any other spam, the moment you answer back, you have confirmed you read the crap instead of deleting it, which means you'll get more of it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: As long as I...

      You'd be able to add them to a spam list or create a rule for the sender if this was email.

      But since it's a custom site you're powerless. This is the big mistake in moving away from standards based client server communication tools.

  9. John Tserkezis

    They still have regular email that's been free since dot.

    Oops, I'm sorry, it's "not the same" because it doesn't have the trendiness value.

  10. LinkOfHyrule

    As long as...

    As long as the Register don't charge me to make crap jokes such as this on their forums, I will continue to be a happy bunny!

    Hahaha facebook thinks it Royal Mail or something, this is like buying a stamp - maybe they will do a first class version that gets to the inbox quicker, or maybe if you are offline, they will plonk your messages in someone else's inbox!

    Idiots, they'd be charging their users for air next! Special facebook air that smells of Mark's farts, bitch!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I didn't even realise I had that second mail box. More stuff to mark as offensive spam then! This being my number one thing to do with Facebook adverts and recommended/trending turd.

    1. VinceH
      Thumb Down

      "I didn't even realise I had that second mail box. More stuff to mark as offensive spam then! This being my number one thing to do with Facebook adverts and recommended/trending turd."

      Actually, out of curiosity, I've just visited my FaecesBook inbox, where I was greeted with a box containing this text:

      "New: The old "Who can send you Facebook messages" setting is being retired. Now anyone can message you, but you choose how messages are filtered.

      Right now, you mostly see stuff from friends in your Inbox. To review your filtering options, click Other > Edit Preferences."

      And the only options that gives are:

      * Basic Filtering · Recommended - Mostly see messages from friends or people you may know.

      * Strict Filtering - Mostly see messages from friends. Messages from people you want to hear from may go to your Other folder.

  12. Graham Marsden

    'the message is probably "important" '

    To quote the BS that American TV presenters come out with when the commercials are due: "This comment continues after these important messages..."

    Bullshit, *I* decide what is important, not Facebook!

    1. Christian Berger

      Re: 'the message is probably "important" '

      I'm sorry, but if you have signed up to Facebook, *they* decide what's important, not you. If you don't like that, why did you sign up in the first place?

  13. EldridgeDunten

    Looks like they pinched this chap's idea:

    1. Mike Flugennock

      "a business model in here somewhere..."

      Looks like they pinched this chap's idea:

      I love the opening paragraph at that dummy blog:

      How much would you pay to communicate with someone you know-of but don't know, if you could be guaranteed that they would read the message? For a fairly large proportion of the population, the answer to that question is more than zero. So there's a business model in here somewhere.

      "A business model in here somewhere..." That sounds like the kind of thinking that drove pretty much every batty, knuckleheaded Web business during the First Dot Bomb Era.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Normal IT pricing applies.....

    It'll be $1 in the U.S., but one Pound in Britain and one Euro in Europe.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Normal IT pricing applies.....

      "It'll be $1 in the U.S., but one Pound in Britain and one Euro in Europe."

      That pattern is why I think we should all adopt the LOLcatism of "moneys".

      It's one moneys to send somebody a spam on Faecesbook.

      The new iThing is 400 moneys.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A VERY old game..

    .. renewed by the Zuck.

    I recall from the dot.bomb days this ever repeating story:

    1 - come up with something that collects loads of users

    2 - leverage that number of "eyeballs" for new investment

    3 - walk off with the dosh while the site burns behind you

    4 - find new set of gullible people to con and repeat.

    The only thing that Zuck has done differently is that it has at least turned some revenue in between those stages, probably because Facebook breaks more laws when operating than dot.bombs did.

  16. William Donelson

    How many of these harebrained ideas will it take to really sour their users?

    Each one of these ideas is fundamentally abusive and dishonest.

    Why not just say: We are going to charge each of you $1 per year for Facebook.

    That's a billion, good enough you wankers.

    1. YouStupidBoy

      Re: How many of these harebrained ideas will it take to really sour their users?

      Because their business model is based in part around no-one being sure how many users are active. Sure, they can tout they have "a billion" accounts, but i'd be surprised if more than 25% of those are legit/regularly used. Before I stopped using it, I had 5 accounts, 1 for workmates, 1 for family, 1 for close friends, 1 for games and one for the cat (don't ask).

      Their share price would implode faster than Mt St. Helens once their finances were released to the SEC and world+dog realized that there's far fewer eyeballs out there than

  17. YouStupidBoy

    No win for the uesr

    I'd like to know how this is going to work. From the release it sounds like that any given account I may have will only receive (up to) one message per week. So if both A+B are willing to stump up the cash to send me a message, does that mean one of them is SOL until next week? That model fails for the user if A is a marketer and B (and the rest of the alphabet) are people they may actually - for whatever reason - wish to communicate with.

    Or is it "each user can send as many messages as they want to pay for, but only once per recipient per week". If it's the latter, prepare to be deluged with even more dross as there's technically no limit to the amount you can receive. Another fail for the user.

    Almost makes me want to sign back into my accounts and update them to make sure they're flagged as active. Nothing i'd like more than for pondscum-feeding bottom-dwelling marketing organizations to spend their dollars on the premise of reaching eyeballs that will never exist.

    1. dssf

      Re: No win for the uesr

      Not what I interpreted. I read it as the known sender gets to send one message per week, but it probably is one message per week per distinct recipient. This would reduce the amount of pay-mail-bombing (PMB, if you will) a given person receives from a given sender. Mail Fatigue would turn against fb if, say, a product hawker hit someone 11 times per week, like a certain database company does to me, or feels as if it does to me.

      OTOH, if the PMBs were allowed to saturate individual recipients, and their expectations were, say, "10% impressions success leading to a sale", and then the PMBs reverse-subjected themselves to PMB fatigue, then they themselves would find fb's scheme non-gratifying. So, from that perspective, fb might be trying to stave off PMB payor fatigue.

      Just my off-the-cuff take on it.

  18. h3

    I dunno I never used it properly (Set up a fake account once to test something but never used it).

    I think online activities and real life should kept completely separate.

    Always have thought that way.

    (That guy who ended up being the poster boy for the 25 gallon tub of personal lubricant for just making a joke should be enough to put people off using their real name.)

  19. CyberCod

    Ask yourself

    If they split that dollar with me I wouldn't mind it so much. Would you?

    That would be the real killer app for me, if my spam actually helped me pay my bills. :)

  20. JeevesMkII

    Another victim of "radical pricing"

    Yep, they've gathered themselves almost a billion users with the promise of "free". Now watch them desperately scramble to wring enough money from those people to sustain themselves. A few years hence they'll be less profitable than a garage enterprise with half a dozen customers, the only difference is that a few people made themselves rich off the backs off gullible investors in mean time.

  21. southpacificpom

    This could backfire on Facebook as I guess Google could afford to loose a billion and send every Facebook user a $1 message inviting them to join Google.

  22. Dana W

    Of course there is NO way this could go disastrously wrong........

  23. graeme leggett Silver badge

    answer to spam is a higher hurdle?

    Foreign spammers can only spam regular email addresses because the cost of spamming is so low.

    In theory, a higher cost to deliver the message should limit it to "genuine" advertising. (Virgin media must spend about a couple of pounds on advertising to me each month - at least one A4 envelope with glossy brochure and a couple of DLs. licence mail around 30p per DL?)

    And a few letters from financial services, but I don't get many letters inviting me to contact a Nigerian banker for my share of misappropiated funds.

    1. CADmonkey

      Re: answer to spam is a higher hurdle?

      spam instead of "genuine" advertising? Personally, it's a distinction that i don't make.

      What did George Orwell say? "Advertising is the sound of the stick rattling around in a bucket of pigswill"

  24. adnim

    Be patient

    After a period of time perhaps FB will offer users the option of not receiving spam email for a dollar.

    Advertisers pay FB so they can email you, you pay FB not to send them.

    It's then a win win for FB

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ...and on and on and on and ...

    Change after change undoes any sense of control/privacy on the part of the user. and we all complain and say "that's the last straw" but we carry on accepting them.

    But I see messaging as the one way that I can communicate at least semi-privately with my nearest, and I really really won't like it if/when I receive scam/porn/gambling/political etc messages by that route.

    That, for me, will be the trigger to withdraw.

  26. dssf

    FB might feel pressure to create astro-accounts...

    But, where it would backfire is when the PMB (Pay-Mail-Bomber) payor demands the age, average access time, average daily inbox count, average related email reply to inbox messages, and so on. If the PMBs do not feel their metrics are being addressed, they will not pay to play that game. They could also aggregate their response misses and that could become a way for the SEC and others to more meaningfully gauge how many active, valuable accounts or subscribers fb really likely has.

  27. Sporkinum

    Combine this with SuperPacs

    Super Pacs with their unlimited fund raising will turn facebook in to a wasteland of political spam. The TV stations and networks make bank on that, why not faceboot?

  28. This post has been deleted by its author

  29. dssf

    Spoonerism Alert

    Ahh, reminiscent. Since the 90s, PooperSacs came to my mind. You revived that memory fragment.

    If SuperPACs take hold of fb, it truly WOULD becoming a PooperSac, and that would truly earn it the name revision of an "e" inserted between fa and ce in te UK, and the replacing of the "a" with an "e" in the US...

  30. This post has been deleted by its author

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No dollars for me

    I've never had a FB account, and never will either.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Inevitable decline is coming

    When was the last time you heard about them launching great new features to help the end user?

    Every story seems to be about how they're going to get some cash off someone to allow them to annoy the crap out of you.

  33. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    My plan

    1. Create a few hundred phony Facebook accounts.

    2. 'Friend' each other, making it look like one big (lucrative) pool of users.

    3. Wait for the marketers to notice and begin their messaging for $$ (or ££ if that works for you).

    4. ????

    5. Profit!

  34. Lamont Cranston

    The stamp goes digital?

    About time, and it may even cut down the volume of spam I receive (yes, Dad, from you).

    On the other hand, this looks set for an epic fail.

  35. jai

    only a matter of time...

    I can't see there being much money in this for FB from legitimate use. But I can see spam companies spending enough on this for FB to decide that it's a Good Idea(TM). $1 might be enough to deter spammers, but sounds like FB are more than happy to revise that price until it become popular.

    So, it's only a matter of time before the inevitable second stage - FB introduce a new feature for their users - pay $1 to stop the spam messages from getting through to them*.

    *this, of course, doesn't block the Premium Messages, which spammers companies can pay $2 to ensure guaranteed delivery. Unless users pay $3 to block those too, meaning they only see Platinum Gold Special Messages (which cost 4$ to send) unless they pay $5.... ad infinitum....

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What is well hidden in plain sight

    in any textbook teaching capitalist economics, is that suckers (especially in high numbers) are a fundamental resource for the economy, in the same way oil and steel are.

    In this view, Facebook the planetary social herding site is on the verge of becoming some sort of "Shell Oil" for sucker exploration and mining.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like