Facebook has scrapped one of its most criticised and confusing features: the ‘Other’ folder.
The site had previously offered a special part of its messages section that allowed anyone to communicate with you. But it is replacing the strange area with a new function called “Message Requests”: another way for people you don’t know to get in touch.
The site claims that the new tool will get rid of the need for phone numbers, and it hopes that it will allow for the expansion of Messenger, its standalone chat app.
“Now, the only thing you need to talk to virtually anyone in the world, is their name,” said Facebook engineer David Marcus in a post. “The rule is pretty simple: If you’re friends on Facebook, if you have each other’s contact info in your phone and have these synced, or if you have an existing open thread, the new messages from that sender will be routed to your inbox.
“Everything else will now be a message request, minus spam attempts that we will continue to ruthlessly combat.”
Instead of allowing people to send messages into the Other folder, users will just receive a “Message Requests”. They will function much the same, but people will see a preview of the message and of its sender, with the option to either “Ignore” or “Accept” the message.
That new feature will be available on the Messenger mobile app — previously, the “Other” folder had only been available on desktop.
“While this may seem like a small change, it's actually a foundational development,” wrote Mr Marcus in his Facebook post. “Look for more in the months to come as we continue to improve ways to find the people you want to communicate with. And as always, please let us know how we can make this better for you.”
Facebook has been gradually adding new features to its Messenger app, as it attempts to make it an entirely separate place from the main site where users can shop as well as chat. Those new features include an artificial intelligence assistant that can help users decide what they want to buy.