Facebook has announced a new service that some may find interesting and even useful, but most will likely see it as a way to make money off spam. The popular social networking service has started to roll out a new inbox system. Where before, users could control who sent them private messages, now anyone can, and Facebook says “strangers”, which is presumably anyone not on a person’s friends list, can send messages to those people for $1 each. This means if you are not on say Brad Pitt’s friends list, you can still send him a message using his @facebook.com email address as long as you pony up that dollar. They say it is similar to LinkedIn’s InMail, but why is Facebook trying to be like LinkedIn?
While Facebook says they won’t let pages or marketers use the service, and that it will only allow users to receive one paid message a week, it seems pretty clear it’s ripe for abuse. It’s not clear if that is one paid message, period or one paid message per sender. It really wouldn’t be hard for a marketer with deep pockets or stolen funds to set up fake identities and go on a spamming spree. It also seems like a way for stalker types to reach their targets. Filters are available to allow users to send messages from people not on their friends list to the infamous “Other” folder, but this is still something Facebook needs to tread very very carefully on, otherwise they may do serious damage to their brand and their user’s trust.