Facebook tests new paid messaging

The entrance to the Facebook main campus in Menlo Park, Calif.

Right now if a stranger sends you a message through Facebook, it lands in your “spam” box. But a new feature from Facebook that allows users to pay $1 for to get into your inbox could change that.

Rebecca Lieb is an analyst at the Altimeter Group. She says charging to send direct messages isn’t a new business model. The business networking site LinkedIn offers the feature to premium -- or paid -- subscribers.

But she says, "LinkedIn is seen and primarily used as a business networking social network. Whereas Facebook is more about people’s private lives."

That’ not to say that people don’t use Facebook to make business contacts. More and more, they do. But Lieb says perception is everything. And whenever Facebook tries to introduce outsides and business to the friend network, it tends to court controversy.

"I think that Facebook risks being perceived as violating people’s privacy."

That’s probably why Facebook is treading carefully here. During the test period, users can only receive one message a week that’s been paid for.

About the author

Queena Kim covers technology for Marketplace. She lives in the Bay Area.

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