Facebook has begun testing a pilot program where users have to pay a fee for each message they want to send over the social networking site.
The website, one of the most visited in the world, published a press release on Thursday that explains a "small experiment"
that will require users to fork over a small sum if they want to contact persons that aren't directly linked to.
Since 2010, Facebook has implemented a feature where messages from unfamiliar users are routed to an "Other" folder instead of the traditional inbox where emails from users had always ended up until then. Facebook says that automatically separating messages into one folder or another by using specially designed algorithms has allowed the site to ensure that spam and other unwanted messages are absent from the actual inboxes of users.
Because users are not notified automatically when messages land into the "Other" folder, emails sent from friends of friends or other people with legitimate inquiries are easily missed. By charging users to ensure messages are routed to the primary inbox, Facebook hopes that fewer messages of actual important won't go unnoticed. It also, however, opens the door for advertisers to have one more way of targeting users.
In a new change of pace, Facebook says this week that they are experimenting with testing "the usefulness of economic signals to determine relevance" of those messages instead of relying strictly on those algorithms.
"This test will give a small number of people the option to pay to have a message routed to the Inbox rather than the Other folder of a recipient that they are not connected with,"
the site explains.
Facebook says right now only a small number of people are testing out the program, but they will be evaluating the results over the next few months to see if users are willing to pay in order to make sure persons they don't know can send them messages that won't me lost in the "Other" folder.
In the press release, Facebook says the feature is aimed so that, "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."
"For the receiver, this test allows them to hear from people who have an important message to send them,"
Facebook claims that for now the program will only be in place between select individuals in the US, but declined to note in their press release if they intend on letting advertisers participate.