/// Facebook’s Hundred-Dollar Test: How Much Would You Pay to Send a Message?

January 11, 2013  |  All Things Digital

Forget the phone book. Facebook wants to be the the online identity directory of the world. But an online directory only works if its members can communicate freely. And for much of Facebook’s history, users have had hard-and-fast ways of keeping their profiles cordoned off from the world, shareable only with those deemed worthy of being a “friend.” That’s by design; people freak out at any hint of a privacy violation, so the more control people have over their visibility on the site, the better they feel about being on Facebook. So slowly but ever so surely, the company needs to usher its users into a new way of existing within Facebook, one where communication is more fluid, defined differently than before. Say, for example, Facebook makes it so that all user Timelines are publicly searchable so that anyone’s bare-bones profile can be found on the site. That’s the first tiny step in a larger initiative. After all, if you want to build a directory, you’ve got to put everyone’s names out there to see. The second and more recent step goes beyond just the listing Facebook’s grand economic experiment with Messages , where Facebook will allow some users to send messages to others outside their friend network, provided that the sender pays a fee to do so. There are stipulations. First, only so many folks are involved in this test at the moment, and they’re only stateside users. Second, there’s a cap — if you’re in the test group, you’ll only be able to receive one of these paid messages per week (if you get any at all). Third, and perhaps most importantly, Facebook is tweaking the price to see how users behave, billing it as an experiment “to test the usefulness of economic signals.” Here’s the thing: Facebook can’t just let anyone send messages to anyone else

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Facebook’s Hundred-Dollar Test: How Much Would You Pay to Send a Message?

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