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Is Facebook hiding messages from you in a second inbox? Probably

Facebook has a secret second inbox

Is that Facebook hiding from you? Are you missing messages that you never knew existed? Depending on your Facebook settings, it is extremely possible that you are getting messages from old friends, clients and the like but are not getting notifications. Slate magazine writer Elizabeth Weingarten recently lost her laptop in a New York cab which is how after a meltdown, she discovered Facebook’s second inbox.

After a long panic over a lost laptop, the journalist came to discover that a good samaritan had found her laptop and attempted to message her on Facebook. Her privacy settings (like most people) were set to allow non-friends to message her privately, but the Facebook system does not include these messages in the overall inbox count, nor does it notify the user, so the good samaritan was messaging into space without Weingarten’s knowledge.

Facebook only sends you a notification if you receive a message in your main inbox from a Facebook friend, but the default privacy setting is to allow any user to message you, thus it creates an entirely separate inbox where other users and pages can message you.

To check your super secret second inbox on Facebook, click the link that says “Messages” on the left side of your Facebook home page which shows “Others.” When that is clicked, you’ll find dozens, if not hundreds of messages from Facebook Pages you’ve fanned or liked, friends and clients you are not yet connected with, or maybe the person who has discovered your missing laptop in a New York cab.

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Below is how your “Other” inbox appears when expanded. Go look at your Facebook inbox and tell us in the comments what kind of messages you have been missing and if you’ve missed anything important.

Sorry, Facebook Page owners

The flip side of this hidden inbox is that for all of your effort as a business to reach consumers by messaging them through your Facebook Page, you may have garnered very little interest due to so few eyes seeing your messages. This is easily Facebook’s attempt to diminish businesses’ ability to use free services on Facebook, pushing them into the paid ad ecosystem, but the side effect is a lot of wasted effort as well as potential missed connections between business users and consumers (and vice versa).

UPDATE: the solution

There is a simple workaround for the hidden messages problem, click here for the trick.

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The American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

37 Comments

37 Comments

  1. Miles O'neal

    December 13, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    I had invitations to things I'd like to have known about, among other things. FB does some brilliant stuff, and some stupid stuff. This is one of their more brain-dead ideas. Just put the number of messages there, or highlight it if there are unread messages or something. Otherwise, why even have the notifications? Sheesh.

  2. Steve Rensberry

    December 14, 2011 at 10:29 am

    I think the separate inbox is a fantastic idea. If I received a notification in my main inbox for every business and commercial interest that I'm connected with on Facebook, my inbox with be cluttered with so much junk I'd never be able to find the personal stuff. Facebook is already way over commercialized. It is and should be primarily a friendship and social medium, NOT a commercial, advertising vehicle.

  3. Matt Thomson

    December 14, 2011 at 10:41 am

    I only had 24, and they were all invitations. Sure cleared up why so many of my messages never got through.

  4. Cassondra

    December 14, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    What's the fix???

  5. Bel Jrodan

    December 14, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    I had this message from FACEBOOK I never even saw!:

    October 29, 2009
    Facebook Site Governance

    Facebook has proposed an updated privacy policy. We encourage you to view the proposal and offer your comments at https://www.facebook.com/fbsitegovernance?v=app_4949752878 by 12:00 p.m. PST on 11/5/09. For future policy updates, become a fan of the Facebook Site Governance Page.

    Thank you for telling us about this. (sigh)

  6. Marc Davison

    December 15, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Mine was empty. No one loves me.

  7. Lani Rosales

    December 16, 2011 at 12:38 am

    The fix is in. It is ineffective, but the only way to avoid missing messages. Thanks, Facebook, we guess:
    https://agbeat.com/real-estate-technology-new-media/get-facebook-to-stop-hiding-messages-from-you-one-simple-trick/

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