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Facebook Begins Testing New Pay-Per-Email ‘Inbox’ Service

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks to the TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2012 conference in San Francisco. (Credit: Max Morse/Getty Images)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks to the TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2012 conference in San Francisco. (Credit: Max Morse/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) - Facebook began experimenting with giving its users the ability to pay to send high priority inbox messages in an attempt to both prioritize its messaging service and generate dollars.

The company announced on its own news page Thursday that it would be “testing a tool that will let users pay to send an e-mail message to another member, even if they aren’t connected as friends on the world’s largest social network.”

The idea is to improve upon the foundation Facebook laid in Nov. 2010 (that many users may still not have noticed), when it launched the “Other” folder – or essentially a spam folder – which is home to all messages not sent from your friends or friends of friends.

Its latest experiment will give a small trial audience the option to pay to have a message routed to the Inbox as opposed to the Other folder, regardless of whether they’re in the recipient’s friends network.

Facebook says the trial is a by product of commentators and researchers suggesting that “imposing a financial cost on the sender” is the “most effective way to discourage unwanted messages and facilitate delivery of messages that are relevant and useful.”

Facebook cites professional scenarios that may be proper cause for a tool such as this, like if you want to send a message to person you heard speak at a conference that you aren’t friends with, or if you’re inquiring about a job opening.

For now, the feature will be limited to messages between users living in the U.S. and for those wary of advertising companies taking advantage of the tool, well, there’s currently a cap on the number of messages a person can pay to send. That’s one per week.

Facebook failed to specify how much the email would cost to send, although Bloomberg reports it will sample different prices, starting with $1.

Although many users may still not “even know what a quail looks like” those that get the reference may find themselves pining for the days before their grandmother could send them a friend request.

The brave new world Facebook entered of being a publicly traded company may have sent chills down the spines of its original users, but the fact remains that the social networking giant needs to generate revenue to keep its stockholders happy.

And while it struggles to do so, users can expect to see more ‘experimenting’ with not-so-subtle means to generate a dollar.

Facebook stock first went public at $38 in May. It’s currently sitting at $27.36 a share.

You can read the full Facebook report on the experiment here.

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