Facebook to Monetize Spam

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.

Written by Sue Walsh


  1. Jonathan Wayne · December 27, 2012

    I’d say the same thing I said the first time I heard this news: WHAT?! Seriously, is Facebook getting so desperate to please its stakeholders they are willing to go to great lengths just to earn money? This is so absurd, and honestly, from the way I see it, people will start complaining again about the network’s privacy policy. I personally don’t want to receive mails or even send one to someone for business reasons. The present strategy, which is usually through a Facebook page, works because it’s targeted and relieves the marketer from the “spamming stigma” since users themselves “like” the page.

  2. Monica Gaubs · December 28, 2012

    Outrageous! Is this a new low for FB, or is this now their normal behavior? First, to charge money for sending messages is kind of strange but probably since they can’t monetize their huge site in other ways, this looks like a cash stream. Second, if I don’t want to receive messages from strangers, is my only choice to delete my FB account?

  3. Stephanie · December 31, 2012

    This should already be expected. Facebook is actually under a lot of heavy fire from its stakeholders and those that have been carefully taking tabs on it ever since it decided to go public. So far, even with its huge success in terms of memberships—and active ones, at that—it still doesn’t have a very solid money-making scheme. It even made a huge mistake of getting Instagram since, seriously, it doesn’t give them money as well. Worse, they spent a lot! I wonder how this would play out soon, though. I haven’t received any Facebook message from a company I don’t know much about.

  4. Chuck · January 28, 2013

    Tell me, what has become of Facebook? I used to enjoy it a lot especially when I started reconnecting to long-ago friends. I even enjoyed the movie Social Network! I guess it’s high time to really accept the fact that this social networking site is not out there just to help people communicate and get reconnected. They are after the money. After all, how can they grow, pay all those expenses, hire good people, and attract more money if they don’t, well, monetize their site? I just don’t think this is the best way to do that.

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