The Other inbox used to contain messages from people you have no connection with on Facebook. Most often these would end up being spam accounts, but occasionally a message from someone you know would end up there.
The problem with the Other inbox is that, unless you check it regularly, messages could go unnoticed for weeks, months, or whenever you remember to check it again.
In an effort to better notify people of the messages that end up in the Other inbox, Facebook is rolling out Message Requests. Message Requests will be hard to miss, as they’re going to be displayed right at the top of the Messenger app.
The idea behind this feature is to let non-connections make it known to you that they want to connect with you. You can deny the request if it looks like spam, or accept it if it’s someone you recognize.
When a Message Request comes through you’ll receive some basic information about the person sending it — such as name, location, and mutual friends.
This update is a double-edged sword in the sense that it will help you notice more messages from non-connections, but it will also make it easier for non-connection to attempt to get in touch with you.
In order to find someone and send a message, all you need is their name. When you take into account that you don’t need a Facebook account to use Messenger, it’s almost like names are the new phone numbers.
David Marcus of the messaging team at Facebook summed this up in a post today:
“We truly want to make Messenger the place where you can find and privately connect with anyone you need to reach, but only be reached by the people you want to communicate with. Now, the only thing you need to talk to virtually anyone in the world, is their name.”
As long as you know someone’s name you can attempt to contact them on Messenger, provided they have the app, and vice versa. In addition, Message Requests allows you to screen the senders before connecting, which is something that text messaging doesn’t allow.
The removal of the Other inbox and introduction of Message Requests will be rolled out widely over the next 10 days, with further developments to come soon.