Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is testing a new service that would require users to pay a $1 fee to send messages to strangers.
The Menlo Park, Calif.-based social networking site said it's in the process of trying out the fee, which will guarantee delivery to a non-friend's inbox, rather than being filed in an ignored folder called "other."
Currently, messages from non-friends are re-routed to a folder called "other," which Facebook first launched in 2011. Messages in the "other" folder can include spam as well as communications from users who are not connected, ending up in a folder separate from the inbox.
Facebook said Thursday it will test the new fee service in the U.S. with a small amount of users, but not with businesses.
"Several commentators and researchers have noted that imposing 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 social networking website said in a statement.
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"For example, if you want to send a message to someone you heard speak at an event but are not friends with, or if you want to message someone about a job opportunity, you can use this feature to reach their inbox," the statement said. “For the receiver, this test allows them to hear from people who have an important message to send them.”
Facebook said the new $1 fee could help dissuade spam or irrelevant messages from being sent to inboxes. Messages from those who pay the $1 fee will show up in the recipients inbox as normal messages, rather than in the "other" folder, which is frequently ignored, it said.
The new service has been compared to LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD), the professional social networking site, which has an InMail feature that only allows connected people to send messages for free. Those without connections must pay a monthly fee.
The fee also comes after the company introduced @facebook.com email addresses in June. CEO Mark Zuckerberg, previously said he's seeking to expand the social networking service to eradicate email entirely.
Most recently, Facebook also launched a service to promise status updates, allowing users to pay a $7 fee to "promote" a post to friends, similar to advertisers' models.
Shares of Facebook fell 85 cents in Friday midday trading to $26.51.