Yesterday was introduced the new Facebook Messages interface. Huzzah! You get an @facebook.com email address, unification of IM and email, conversation history, etc. That sounds cool! And what is that new feature called "social inbox"? That's nice, messages from your friends will be prioritized and appear directly in your inbox, and other emails will go to the "others" box. Wait, what?
This feature is meant to help you
waste time connect efficiently with your network. I won't go into the analysis of how your email contacts are not always friends, even the important and regular ones, how will Google react, or how will we send emails with no subject line. I'm sure someone will talk about that at length. Instead, let's talk about these nice people always interested in becoming our friends, sell us cheap software enlarge our pe bank account: spammers.
In the old world of regular email (yes, old, we're in Web 2.0, Gmail is soooo last week), we had spam filters. A lot of methods were developed to protect us: blacklistingm whitelisting, greylisting, bayesian filters, SMTP verification, CAPTCHAs, etc. They're not all efficient, but services like Gmail are really good at catching unwanted email. Spamming is an activity with a very low conversion rate: you have to send thousands of emails just to get one gullible person to click and buy. Thankfully, emails are cheap to send. But we could improve that conversion rate. Facebook just did it.
With new Messages, your Inbox will only contain messages from your friends and their friends. All other messages will go into an Other folder where you can look at them separately.
Put you in situation. A gorgeous woman/man/dog wants to be your friend on Facebook. Will you accept her/him? Let's say she has more or less the same tastes has you (that's surprinsingly easy to get the list of a band's fans, same for book, political views, etc). Not yet? Let's say you have friends more gullible than you. The hot woman is a friend of another friend and sends you a message in these terms: "Hi! We met at <gullible friend>'s party a few months ago, I had a really good time talking to you". You just accepted the friend request, admit it. And a few days/weeks later, she will begin sending you messages about great opportunities like ponzi schemes or nigerian scams. And YOU WILL CLICK! Because it will appear directly in your inbox. Because it comes from one of your friends, someone you more or less trust.
Facebook just gave spammers a direct access to your inbox, and offered them targeted advertising, thanks to all the groups, likes, music and book fan groups. Spammers are considered dumb, because they automate a lot. But thanks to Facebook's social features, they will learn to customize the mails, just for you. They will pay cheap workers to talk to you through the fake accounts, they will get you, your friends and your family, and will be a part of your great friends network.
Thanks to Facebook.