Announcing the new Message Requests, Facebook's David Marcus said in post, "Forget phone numbers! Today, we're excited to start rolling out Message Requests for Messenger. Now, the only thing you need to talk to virtually anyone in the world is their name." Marcus also confirmed that Facebook is retiring the dated "Other Folder" that was only accessible via the Web.
Detailing how Message Requests will work, Marcus added, "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."
Facebook's Help Centre page explains how Message Requests works, noting that requests will appear at the top of the inbox when users receive a new one. "When you open a message request, you can choose Ignore to hide the conversation, or choose Reply to move the conversation to your inbox. Messages from friends will go to your inbox and messages we think are spam will be filtered out of your requests," adds the page.
With over 700 million active users, Messenger is already huge in terms of its user base and the company with its new Message Requests feature wants to make its standalone messaging app popular for connecting with non-friends.
Tony Leach, Messenger's Product Manager, talking about Message Requests told TechCrunch, "We've heard so many stories like estranged parents trying to get back in touch, or you lost your wallet and someone trying to get in touch with you. That's why we want to replace that with a system that makes it a lot easier to catch the messages that you want to see. A level of openness where you can get in touch with anyone in the world but still have the control yourself of who contacts you and who can't."
Back in May, Facebook started rolling out a major feature to its standalone Messenger that offered publicly available contextual information of first-time senders on the app. The feature was immensely useful for Messenger app and its users who sometimes received messages from strangers.
The social platform has been aggressively pushing its Messenger and in July enabled users without an account to sign up for its Messenger app with just a phone number.