Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Is Paying to Message Strangers a New Texting Business?

Cellphone carriers are making less money from text messages thanks to free messaging services offered by Facebook, Apple and other tech companies. But now Facebook is running a test to see if it can make some money by charging people to send messages to strangers. Facebook said it started the experiment with a small percentage of users last week. For $1, a message sent to a stranger will show up in the recipient's in-box. Typically, when you send a message to people who aren't connected to you on Facebook, it shows up in a box labeled "Other," which is often ignored. LinkedIn, the social networking service for professionals, offers a similar paid service. When people sign up for premium accounts, they can send a limited number of messages to people they aren't connected with each month. For instance, you can pay $20 a month for a premium account that allows you to send three messages to strangers each month. Who would want to pay to send a message to strangers? Perhaps a job seeker could ask an employer about getting some work. Journalists could benefit from having another alternative to phone calls and e-mails. Facebook says research has shown charging for messaging is the most effective way to discourage unwanted messages and get people messages that are more relevant. Now that the cellphone text message is quickly becoming old-fashioned, is this the new premium text message? Sure looks that way.

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