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Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 3.59.05 PMImage Screenshot Courtesy of: http://thenextweb.com 

On a daily basis Facebook users are constantly receiving notifications about a new message in their inbox. The vast majority of these messages are from friends you as a user already have on Facebook. Occasionally, you might receive a message request. This is a message from a fellow Facebook user that you are not yet friends with. In order to view the message the user has to accept the request and the conversation can continue from there. Have you ever thought what would happen if we didn’t have the option to filter unwanted messages? Or what if Facebook did that for you?

Recently it has been disclosed that Facebook has already been filtering through your message requests with out you even knowing it. All those pesky, unwanted messages have been collected and put into a secret folder, similar to a spam or junk mailbox on your regular email. While Facebook tried to eliminate some of those creepy messages, the algorithm doing the sorting makes a mistake every so often and hides some important messages along with the unwanted ones. While it can be helpful to hide the unwanted strangers sending you personal messages for safety or privacy reasons it can hinder a professional experience. Such as a message from a co-worker or classmate you are not yet friends with could also have been filtered out and put into this secret folder. Up until now Facebook has kept this from you, but now there are a few steps that can be taken to expose these messages, good or bad. Cosmopolitan gives a step-by-step method of finding these requests, Refinery29 also gives a guide on how to access the hidden message via smartphone:

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Image Screenshot Courtesy of: Refinery29

Now that you are able to view all of your missed messages from unwanted strangers, there may also be some that you wish you had seen earlier because they were “wanted.” While Facebook was trying to be the good guy in the situation and eliminate some of the trolls, cat fishers, posers, and imposters out there in the world- wide web, there may be slight remorse. You might be wondering why these messages were kept from you and others were able to slip through and reach you. This is due to the fact that it is a computer with a set of instructions called an algorithm that is sorting through your mail. Through privacy settings, Facebook has chosen certain messages from people that are not your friends to be stored in this folder.

Do you regret revealing your missed message requests? Is it better to keep it hidden? It goes along with the saying, “the less you know the better.”

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Image Screenshot Courtesy of: http://fm.cnbc.com

           The next question to ponder is… How does this affect our message use on Facebook? By having to accept certain messages you as the user are choosing who to communicate with and shaping your social circle on social media platforms like Facebook. This challenges the idea and relation between real life and online communities. Through selective messaging you can support the community you have offline to the one online. Another way this can have an affect on our messaging habits is safety. Through selection and filtering there is a sort of protection wall put up so that you are not bombarded with messages from people that you do not know.

How will Facebook eliminate some of the miss-filtered messages? This is a much larger question and simply has to do with the programming involved that tells the robot to sort. Now that Facebook has allowed its users to access these hidden messages, it opens up the opportunity for you to be more selective and have say as to what message you chose to see and respond to. After all it’s your Facebook, your social media so you do what you want with it.

 

Morel Malcolm

 

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One thought on “Message Requests Revealed: Messages you never received on Facebook

  1. I heard about this discovery through Refinery29 not long ago, and was surprised to hear the reactions to it. Personally I had been aware of the filtered messages for at least a year or two and regularly checked it (mostly to find and block creepy strangers that were trying to contact me). I thought everyone knew about this feature until it became “exposed”— I was like, heck, I should have written an article about this and pitched it to Refinery29, but who knew it would be such an interesting discovery to the masses? Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the way Facebook filters messages as of right now, and I don’t feel like any of these messages have been “hidden” from me. Perhaps I’m on Facebook on a desktop more than most people, but it is pretty easy to get to filtered messages on a desktop and respond (or block people!) from there. This media response to finding out about the filtered messages reminds me of the discussion we had in class about when the Facebook news feed came around and so many people felt a breach of privacy even though none of their settings or visibility had really changed. I think that people probably feel somewhat betrayed because they weren’t aware of this feature until now, but I’m sure the shock around the filtered messages system will fade pretty quickly.

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