Facebook has decided to jettison one of the social network's least useful features, Other Inbox, in favor of a different way to contact people you're not friends with. Other Inbox was an ill-fated second repository for messages from total strangers that the average user barely checked. The replacement, called Message Requests, is rolling out today and it will allow users to reach out to others on Facebook in a more prominent fashion so long as they have your name, according to a report from TechCrunch.
With Facebook Messenger used by more than 700 million people around the globe, the company wants to turn its chat platform into a broader directory for anyone who uses Facebook. The Message Request feature will now take any message from someone you're not friends with, so long as they don't have your phone number, and tuck it inside a notification box at the top of your Messenger queue. You can check the request to see basic info about that person, like their name, where they live, and any mutual friends you may have. If you don't want to communicate, you can shut down the conversation right there. It hands users the ability to determine whether someone is a scammer, a creep, or actually a potential friend — without depositing the message in the black hole that was Other Inbox.
It's part of a broader ploy from Facebook to subsume the very nature of smartphone and web communication. At the moment, we still rely on old-school identifiers like the phone number, a 10-digit numeric code you'll likely only receive if you've met a person in the flesh and asked them for it. Other ways of getting in touch with people you've met casually or strangers you're trying to contact have been LinkedIn and the always hit-or-miss cold email. With Message Requests, Facebook is creating a more casual way to reach out to people on the internet.