Facebook is trying to figure out how much its users are willing to cough up to ensure that a message they send to a nonfriend ends up in the Facebook recipient's "Inbox" instead of landing in the dreaded "Other" folder where spam goes to die.
So Facebook is using its new $100 come-on to contact Zuckerberg to find out how much users are willing to pay. Not everyone who messages Zuckerberg will be asked to fork over a Benjamin during the test period that began Dec. 20. That means your message may never get through.
"For example, if you want to send a message to someone you heard speak at an event but are not friends with, or if you want to message someone about a job opportunity, you can use this feature to reach their Inbox," Facebook said in a statement. "For the receiver, this test allows them to hear from people who have an important message to send them."
The company also has to decide who gets the money -- Facebook or the recipient.
Asked whom they'd want to send a Facebook message enough to pay for it -- and how much they'd be willing to pay -- readers posted fierce responses on this newspaper's Facebook page:
"Not a solitary penny ... ZILCH!" wrote Janie Chavez.
"This is plain stupid," said Jeanne McGarry Morrison.
Brian Blau, Gartner's research director in consumer technologies, believes such volatile responses won't make any difference.
Blau says Facebook's new pay-to-message approach is similar to paying an athlete to autograph a ball, donating money to hear a politician speak at a dinner, or dropping a few bucks to have your picture taken with an actor at Comic-Con.
"Any negative reaction will be counterbalanced by people who think it's fascinating and have an extra dollar or two and are willing to spend it to communicate with someone they've always wanted to communicate with," Blau said.
But Rebecca Lieb, an industry analyst with the Altimeter Group, said Facebook's plan has frightening implications for users who don't want messages from certain people, especially women with restraining orders or who are being stalked.
"This could make Facebook, for real or perceived reasons, a scarier or creepier place," Lieb said.
Contact Dan Nakaso at 408-271-3648. Follow him at Twitter.com/dannakaso.