Facebook has started charging its users $1 to send messages to the inbox of people outside their friends circle. In Britain, users are being
charged up to $15 to message celebrities.
American users who try to email people outside their friends circle have been getting "New Message" pop-ups stating, "You aren't connected to (this person) on Facebook, so your message would normally get filtered to (their) Other folder."
Users are given the option to send the message to the person's regular inbox for $1 or send it to the recipients "Other" folder at no cost.
Facebook told the British Sunday Times in a statement that charging people to message someone outside their "friends" circle is a way to keep spam out of users' inboxes and prevent strangers from overwhelming them with messages.
"The system of paying to message non-friends in their inbox is designed to prevent spam while acknowledging that sometimes you might want to hear from people outside your immediate social circle," Facebook's response to the British newspaper said.
The move to charge is controversial, in part because Facebook's home page says, "It's free and always will be."
Many Facebook users don't know that an "Other" folder exists or how to get to it because it's less visible and has no automatic alert.
In Britain, the social media giant started charging users at the end of March to send messages to celebrities -- about $15 for the most popular ones. The price varies depending on the number of followers a celebrity has and how prominent Facebook perceives the person to be.
"We are testing a number of price points in the UK and other countries to establish the optimal fee that signals importance," Facebook told the Sunday Times.
Users can get to the "Other" folder, which contains messages and emails that have been filtered out of your inbox, by clicking on "Messages" at the top left of your main messages view, then "Other." This is where event invites typically go.
In December, Facebook explored charging users up to $100 to send messages to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and other top executives, but that approach was quickly abandoned.
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