Messages from the past – no thanks to Facebook

I get David Pogue’s NYTimes blog postings in my email. I like his reviews and reflections, but today’s Two Tips for Facebook Users was particularly helpful. In it he reveals that there is a hidden “Other” messages mailbox.

[H]ere’s the bottom line: Go to your Facebook page. In the left-side panel, click Messages. There, next to the boldfaced word “Inbox,” you see a light gray word “Other.” Click it to see your hidden stash of messages. You might be surprised at how much important stuff has been waiting for you there.

Indeed I was! I had well over 100 messages, one all the way back to 2005! And several from January of this year, offering condolences and support and even their own stories of loss, from friends I had not heard from in years and complete strangers. I felt horrible that I had not seen these notes nor replied to them. I have now. Thank you all.

Over the  last seven months I have remarked more than once that this is Facebook at its best, helping us share our loss and joy with others and feeling the support and love in return. All of this in a way that never could have happened ten years ago. And then this. Ok, I will give it to you Facebook, this is not a complete failure. But I feel so bad that those people thought I was merely ignoring them. (Including, I might add, prospective students. Others will understand we were grieving, but back in spring of 2010 a HS junior wanted to know more about the college and “was looking forward to hearing from you.”)

Oh, and why?

It turns out that the Other folder is part of Facebook’s weird $1-a-message program. If you try to send a message to someone who’s not one of your Facebook friends, a dialogue box appears. It offers you two choices: either pay $1, or condemn your message to that Other folder.
The program may not be quite as ham-handedly greedy as it seems; Facebook explains that this program is intended to eliminate spam. By limiting Inbox-bound traffic to messages from people you actually know (and people who’ve paid a dollar), Facebook can better ensure that you’ll never see junk messages there.

Well, fine. But in that case, the Other folder should not be so buried. You don’t get any kind of alert or notification when new messages arrive there. And, as you now know, it takes two knowledgeable clicks to find it.

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