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Facebook 'experiment' lets select users pay to have messages routed directly to a stranger's inbox

Darren Murph
December 20, 2012
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Get ready to have your preconceived notions of email destroyed. In a Facebook blog post today, the company has gone to great lengths to bury the lede -- which, essentially, says that it's experimenting with the idea of letting non-connected users pay in order to have a message routed to one's inbox instead of that ill-fated "Other" folder. According to the company, it's being dubbed a "small experiment" to "test the usefulness of economic signals to determine relevance." As an excuse, Facebook has evidently consulted with "several commentators and researchers," which "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."

Bitterness aside, there is some value in being able to directly ping a stranger you heard speak at an event, or you want to really show your interest in a job opportunity, but it still destroys the level playing field that we've all come to know and respect as it relates to digital communication. This message routing feature is only for personal messages between individuals in the United States, and if there's a silver lining to be found, we're told that the number of messages a person can have routed from their Other folder to their Inbox will be limited to a maximum of one per week. It's unclear how the service will evolve once the testing ends, but perhaps it depends on how much blowback occurs compared to the whole Instagate thing.

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