Facebook is expanding its messaging experiment with one version where users can pay $100, €75 and send a message to anyone on the site. Previously, Facebook made it possible to pay $1 to make sure a message to a friend didn't end up in the Other folder where it's easy to overlook.
The experiment is only available to a few people, but it shows that Facebook is more than willing to do seemingly strange things if it's on to something.
While Facebook has always grown by copying a feature and then doing it better, it also went against the grain on more than one occasion, moves that in the end proved great. Features such as the News Feed were universally hated when first introduced.
While the feature may seem ripe for abuse, Facebook thought this through. There are limits to how many times someone can pay to send a message, you can just send 1,000 messages in a row. Even if you could, that would cost you $100,000, €75,000.
Charging to prioritize messages is not a revenue scheme for Facebook, it's not going to make that much money in the grand scheme of things this way.
But it is a way to ensure that important messages get through, if you're willing to pay $1. €0.75 to message a friend or $100 to message a complete stranger, you probably have something important to say.
Apart from the limit on how many messages you can pay to send, for example in the earlier experiment it was only one a week, there's probably a limit on how many paid messages a user can get, to prevent famous people from being inundated.
Note that, for most people, you can already send a message to complete strangers, unless they have altered their privacy settings to make it impossible for strangers to contact them.
But that message will end up in the Other folder, not the inbox. Users have to visit the Other folder specifically to see those messages and few do.