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[liberationtech] Facebook Allows You to Pay $1 to Message Anyone

Greg Norcie greg at
Sat Dec 22 18:20:17 PST 2012

Hi all,

I just read this article about Facebook's recent change to messages:

The gist is that you can pay a dollar to make sure your message is
"In the test, users can pay $1 to make sure their messages land in the
Inbox, rather than the Other section. Facebook thinks this could be the
best way to deliver important messages from non-friends while keeping
spam out of the Inbox."

I was wondering whether anyone else thinks this change could be a
violation of Facebook's FTC settlement? I am not a lawyer, but I know
several policy wonks are on here, so I thought I'd seek a second opinion.

Recall that according to their 2011 settlement, Facebook is "required to
obtain consumers' affirmative express consent before enacting changes
that override their privacy preferences"

Facebook's previous privacy interface allowed users to specify who could
send them messages. For example, a user could have specified that only
their friends could message them.

The new interface offers two options:

1.) Basic Filtering: "Mostly just friends and people you know"
2.) Strict Filtering: "Mostly just friends - you may miss messages from
other people you know"


If a user, prior to this change, had made their settings such that only
friends could message them, this change makes it such that ANYONE
(including strangers) to pay to message them.

Couldn't this be construed as enacting changes that override privacy
preferences without affirmative express consent, and thus a violation of
the 2011 settlement?
Greg Norcie (greg at
GPG key: 0x1B873635

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