What's the Latest Development?
Last week, Facebook announced that it is testing a new feature that will enable individuals to send messages to members outside of their social network circles for a dollar per message. The functionality already exists to send messages to strangers, so to speak, but they tend to get routed into an often-overlooked folder, whereas the new feature ensures that the messages will appear in the member's primary in-box. Currently, the test group is limited to a small number of US-based users, and only one message a week can be received via this feature.
What's the Big Idea?
It's the latest effort by Facebook to capitalize on its new status as a publicly-traded company, coming a few months after another announcement that offered to make users' personal posts more visible for a $7 fee. The $1 direct-messaging cost is something that the company plans to tinker with, but a statement posted to its site acknowledges the value of charging for the service: "[I]mposing 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." The service is also restricted to individuals; companies cannot use it to deliver bulk e-mails.
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