A few years ago I got what looked like an important piece of mail in my mailbox, and it was addressed to someone else with a unique name. I thought about throwing it back in the mail with a “not at this address” note and hoping it would make it to the right place eventually, but then I had an idea. I searched for that person’s very unique name in Facebook, and sure enough, I found one result and they were in Portland. I sent them a message, and they were thrilled (it was in fact a very important piece of mail) and we met up craiglist style for the hand-off. If I do say so myself, this was a pretty helpful and social interaction. Yay Facebook!
More recently, in November 2011, a woman left her laptop in a cab and a good samaritan sent her a Facebook message to let her know, but she never noticed it.
You see, between the time I sent my message and the laptop finder sent theirs, Facebook redesigned their message system to effectively ensure a message like those would never see the light of day. So Elizabeth didn’t get the message about her long lost laptop until someone told her where to dig to find all her Facebook messages.
Let’s take a look. You can find it by clicking “Messages” and then the mysterious “Other” option that then appears below it.
The messages you’re alerted about and that land in your main message folder are typically just ones from your Facebook friends. And messages Facebook deems as “less meaningful” — messages sent to you by non-Facebook friends like good samaritans, messages sent to all members of a group you belong to, etc. — go to the “Other” folder… to die.
Facebook’s “Other” messages folder is very similar to the the spam folder in email that we’re used to. Except it would be like Gmail deciding all emails you receive from people who aren’t in your address book will land in the spam folder… and then making the spam folder very hard to find.
Is it better or more social to receive messages from anyone, or only your friends? Is Facebook trying to cover its butt and avoid the appearance of being used for spam at any cost? What do you think? Have you missed any important messages thanks to Facebook’s hidden “Other” folder for messages? Speak your mind / share your story in the comments.