Much to many users’ chagrins, Facebook is testing a service that charges users $1 to message people to whom they aren’t connected. As a test that has now been completed, it set users back $100 to get in Facebook Co-Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s inbox (or anyone else with a high amount of followers), but with no guarantee that he’ll even see or respond to their messages. Now Facebook is testing a similar service in the U.K., charging users to contact celebrities and other people with swarms of followers.
If there’s anything to take away from today’s announcement from Facebook, it’s that the company has not released a direct competitor to Gmail or any other messaging provider. Instead, Facebook’s Social Inbox is a messaging platform for interacting with the people you care about.
With many young users leveraging the Facebook inbox as their primary messaging service rather than email, why would Facebook find it necessary to launch their own email service on Monday? One answer is that Facebook needs access to the inbox to determine individuals’ true authority and influence.
This afternoon Facebook is announcing an extended set of features for developers including a new Inbox API and Notification API. The first announcement is a big one: “The Inbox API allows you to access your users’ messages, once they grant your application the new read_mailbox extended permission.” That means we could soon see a ton of new applications built around managing users’ Facebook inboxes. The one downside of this new feature is that applications cannot currently send messages.
This afternoon Facebook announced that they are launching an updated version of their inbox. Finally! So what changes are coming to the inbox? A few things. The greatest improvement is the ability to filter through those messages that have been unread. Facebook Page updates will also get their own tab, which is surprising since it had previously appeared as though the company was reducing the emphasis on Page updates.
Last week Kristen Nicole, the other writer of this site, temporarily lost almost 1,000 messages from her Facebook inbox. This week other users have been reporting the issue including Stefanos Kofopoulos who received multiple errors stating that “Sorry, the contents of this thread are temporarily unavailable. Please check back later.” Many users have hundreds if not thousands of messages now on Facebook and are becoming increasingly reliant on the service for daily communication.