Facebook will now charge $1 per message sent to a person outside your friend list. Although the charges are set for priority messages, sending out a message to anyone outside your friend list may make you susceptible to the charges. The rate is not fixed yet and may vary depending on response.
While the official release hinted at this being an improved security measure to avoid receiving messages from unknown sources, critics are a bit skeptic and blame the sudden focus on charging users a direct result of the IPO failure.
According to the official Press Release:
Today we’re starting a small experiment to test the usefulness of economic signals to determine relevance. This test will give a small number of people the option to pay to have a message routed to the Inbox rather than the Other folder of a recipient that they are not connected with.
Several commentators and researchers have noted that imposing a financial cost on the sender may be the most effective way to discourage unwanted messages and facilitate delivery of messages that are relevant and useful.
The test is restricted to the US for now and will be slowly expanded to include other nations. Also, there is a cap set on the number of paid messages that can be sent out monthly.