Facebook To Charge For Private Messaging?

Submitted by on the 26th of March 2013

This morning the office was abuzz with talk of Facebook’s latest change – seems the company has rolled out preliminary testing on their messaging service. Basically, should you wish to send a private message to someone who is not a connection, Facebook will charge you anywhere from $1 (approx. R9,46) to deliver your message. If you don’t pay, your message will be sent to that recipients spam folder.

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I tried to test this today by sending a message to a colleague who is not a friend on Facebook, and my message went through just fine. So although this testing phase has been rolled out in South Africa, it’s clearly only to a percentage of the South African users, for now.

This leads me to my next question – how are they targeting their tester base, and how do they come up with the rates? Seems a certain Mr Zuckerberg has a higher influence, and to message him is going to cost you $100 (Just under R1000). If I pay only $1 to message someone else, does this mean their following is less important, or their influence not as valuable?

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Will paid for Facebook messaging become the new Klout? Will your influence be determined by the highest ‘message me’ rate?

I see two possible reasons for Facebook doing this – one could be that they want to prevent spam (something happening more and more on the platform). Perhaps they view it as making spam ‘legitimate’ as surely, if it’s paid for, it’s not junk? The other reason may be to generate extra revenue. Facebook has always openly stated that their service is free, and always will be, so this could be a (albeit small) way of generating extra cash – we all remember when Facebook’s IPO dropped by 17% in May last year.

Preventing non-connected users on a social platform from contacting one another is not a new occurrence – LinkedIn lives by the rule – although for a strictly business platform it makes perfect sense. Even Twitter won’t allow you to send a DM unless that person follows you back.

What does this mean for business? As with LinkedIn it may mean proving a connection with someone (be it personal or professional) before connecting with him or her. Networking is vitally important in this day and age, but networking based on a bit of research and homework almost seems that much more legit.

I would be very interested to hear your comments on this. Have you experienced a request for payment yet, and would you pay R10 or more, to contact someone using Facebook’s messaging service?