There's A Secret Inbox In Facebook Messenger

Photo: Courtesy Facebook.
When I saw the that there was another hidden inbox in Facebook yesterday, I rolled my eyes. It's probably just filled with spam and not even very hidden in the first place, I thought to myself. But I scoped it out. I can definitively say I was wrong and that Facebook needs to figure out a better way to handle its messaging situation.

You've likely heard of Facebook's old "Other" inbox, a mysterious black box where messages from non-contacts were sent to gather dust. In October, Facebook killed this secret inbox. In its place, the social network created Message Requests, which you can toggle between in the Messages section of the app or website. Here, Facebook would gather the messages from people who weren't your friends. Except, there was a catch.

At the bottom of that Message Request inbox is another link: See filtered requests. Why there needs to be another link from these already filtered message requests, I don't know. But if you click this, you're taken to a time machine of messages that never reached your eyes.

Somehow, I had messages dating back to 2012 that I'd never seen — likely, they were in that "Other" inbox and transferred to this location. One, from just under two years ago, was a serious request from a college friend's dad inquiring if I could provide any help with his daughter's safety and well-being. My stomach tightened up into a wad upon seeing this plea. He probably assumed I just ignored it. On the lighter side, another message was from a karaoke DJ inviting me to an upcoming karaoke contest. I'm now filled with FOMO and wonder at what could have been.

To see your own filtered message requests, go to Messages, Message Requests, then tap See Filtered Requests if you're on Facebook via desktop. On your phone, go to the Facebook Messenger app, tap the gear (settings) icon in the upper right, then People, Message Requests, and then scroll down and press See Filtered Requests to see the same thing.
Handling messages from strangers is an understandably tricky situation. In the comments of other articles about this so-called "hidden inbox," people have talked about how they've missed emails from new friends they'd met, missed business inquiries, and more. You can say that yes, some of these messages would have been better delivered via email or LinkedIn, but sometimes, Facebook is all you have to go by.

I have no idea what happened to the college friend whose dad messaged me back in 2014 (either she removed her account or blocked me). But I hope that Facebook can tweak its Message Requests section so something like this doesn't happen again. It definitely needs to be more user-friendly. At least now, we know this secret inbox exists.

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