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Facebook Tests Paid-For ‘Spam’ Emails

Facebook’s new service lets people pay to get emails past the spam filters

On by Peter Judge 1

Facebook is testing a service which would allow someone you don’t know to pay one dollar a time to get their message into your Facebook Inbox alongside those from actual friends.

For a fee believed to be $1 per time, test users of the service will be able to make sure a message gets to a specified user’s inbox. At present, only messages from a user’s Facebook friends go into the Inbox automatically, while most others, including spam, go to a folder called “Other”.

Pay to talk to me

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The idea has been branded as the monetisation of email spam, but Facebook’s announcement describes  it more blandly as ” a small experiment to test the usefulness of economic signals to determine relevance.”

It will be available to a small group of users, and not to companies. It’s also limited to only one paid message per week in your inbox.  It’s also only available in the US, so most TechWeekEurope readers are safe.

The service is similar to one that has been available on LinkedIn’s InMail for some time, and Facebook points out that charging per message has long been suggested as one way to cut down the number of spam messages, which now make up the majority of messages sent on the wider Internet.

“If you want to send a message to someone you heard speak at an event but are not friends with, or if you want to message someone about a job opportunity, you can use this feature to reach their Inbox,” the announcement says. “For the receiver, this test allows them to hear from people who have an important message to send them.”

Some commentators are seeing this as another effort by Facebook to make money from its social media dominance, but the limits on it are such that it will make Facebook a tiny amount of money as it stands, and AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka points out that Facebook already has a more lucrative business selling  already-pretty-intrusive adverts on the service: “If Coke wants to get my attention on the social network, Facebook has an ever-expanding series of ad options it wants to sell them.”

Would you rather have a Christmas card than a spam email? Try our Christmas quiz!

 

Peter Judge
Author: Peter Judge
Editor, TechWeekEurope
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