Facebook is hiding your messages from you

Facebook is hiding your messages from you

Summary: Facebook has a hidden Other Messages folder! You should probably go check yours and see what's waiting for you inside, just in case it's something important that Facebook shouldn't have put there.

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Head over to Facebook right now. How many unread private messages do you have in your Messages folder? You'll either reply 0, or however many the little number red number at the top says you have. Guess what? Chances are you have many, many more messages waiting for you.

Open up the Messages folder. Yes, if you haven't already clicked on it, do so now. Now, look over at the left-hand Favorites menu. What's that under the Messages option? There's another folder, slightly indented, labeled as Other. Click on it. There you go, now you're in the hidden folder, called Other Messages.

This Other option only appears when you're already in Messages. That's why nobody ever sees it: once they click on Messages, they only ever look at the middle of the screen. There's no obvious way to access Other Messages from anywhere else on Facebook. The only other way to get here is to directly go to facebook.com/messages/other/.

When I look through this folder, I mainly see mass messages sent to myself and other invitees of various Facebook Events and members of numerous Facebook Groups. The rest comprise of spam messages, like the obvious one you can see in the screenshot above (thanks Addison, I think I'm impressive as well).

When I pointed out this folder to my friends a while back, however, many said that it included items that should not be in there. In other words, they're not spam and they're not mass messages. A few even got really annoyed that Facebook classified some of them incorrectly because they missed important information.

If you want to move a message from one folder to the other, you have to open the item in question, and choose the corresponding option from the Actions menu at the top. Alternatively, if you respond to any item in the Other Messages folder, the conversation is moved to your main Messages folder. That's rather intuitive, unlike the location of the Other Messages folder.

So, when did Facebook add Other Messages? It happened way back in November 2010. That's right: most people have been unaware of this folder for over a year. You may of course have messages in this folder sent before November 2010, because Facebook automatically moved them there from your inbox when it created the folder. What follows is how Facebook described its decision to add it.

"It seems wrong that an email message from your best friend gets sandwiched between a bill and a bank statement," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "It's not that those other messages aren't important, but one of them is more meaningful. With new Messages, your Inbox will only contain messages from your friends and their friends. All other messages will go into an Other folder where you can look at them separately. If someone you know isn't on Facebook, that person's email will initially go into the Other folder. You can easily move that conversation into the Inbox, and all the future conversations with that friend will show up there. You can also change your account settings to be even more limited and bounce any emails that aren't exclusively from friends."

In short, messages only appear in the main inbox if they're from friends or friends-of-friends, and if they aren't sent to mailing lists or broad distribution groups. Although Other Messages is supposed to work as a junk/spam folder on Facebook, it's not working perfectly for everyone. I have no problem with such a folder existing: even my friends who say they missed an important message admit that most of their messages in there are not worth their time.

That's not the problem here though. I don't believe Facebook should remove this folder, but I do think they need to make it more visible. I would wager that 99 percent of Facebook's 800 million monthly active users are completely unaware of its existence.

Facebook likely won't start displaying notifications for Other Messages, but I do hope they make it more obvious. Until then, it thus seems the best way to make sure you don't miss anything is to check the Other Messages folder on a regular basis, just like you should for your Junk/Spam folder in your e-mail account.

I first saw talk of Other Messages show up on TNW last month, but it has resurfaced again this week at RedheadWriting and Slate. Since the change was made over a year ago, I'm sure others have written about it before these two publications. If you'd like to be added to the list, comment below or contact me directly and I'll see that your article is included.

See also:

Topics: Collaboration, Social Enterprise

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

15 comments
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  • RE: Facebook is hiding your messages from you

    I noticed the "other" folder today, and found some important messages from a few days ago. There was no red notification icon at the top of my page for these.
    bell6576@...
  • RE: Facebook is hiding your messages from you

    They still put a notification for these messages in the sidebar. For observant people; this is a non-issue.
    ShanOw
  • RE: Facebook is hiding your messages from you

    I actually found some friend requests that Facebook must have decided I didn't need to get notified about. Pretty annoying when your coworker won't stop asking why you haven't befriended them.
    supernaut6011
  • RE: Facebook is hiding your messages from you

    I noticed the 'other' option last night and was surprised to find some messages in there that were relatively important, including an invite to a group that I want to be a part of. Just another reason I am slowly drifting away from Facebook. And it makes sense now why people say they aren't getting private messages. Grrrr Facebook!
    leesteph1956@...
  • Facebook 'fan page' here.

    For all your horror story sharing, and just maybe for Facebook to take notice if it gets big enough.
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Make-the-hidden-inbox-visible/263903103665131
    forkwill
  • RE: Facebook is hiding your messages from you

    I very much dislike this annoying trend that facebook, google and other similar site have to decide for me what I will find interesting or annoying. Most especialy when I have no control over it.

    This is one of the main reason why my participation to social sites is very limited and why I stick to email.

    That and the mile long usage agrement that changes every month or so where you sign your life, children and left kidney in full perpetuity.
    ydecelles@...
  • RE: Facebook is hiding your messages from you

    LOL, had 3 messages from applications I barely use sitting in there. As for those of you who are looking for a fast way to delete facebook conversations, checkout [url=http://themesbank.com/blog/2011/10/06/permanently-delete-facebook-messages/]this[/url] site for an extension that isn't on the chrome webstore; it's actually a grease monkey script.

    Adds a big out of place "D" button that basically performs some java script automation that replaces 5 clicks to delete a single conversation with 1; no confirmation, so think twice b4 u click :p
    MrElectrifyer
  • Facebook, thats right, I have an account there.

    And that 'other' folder had one message from march 2010.

    Something about changing use agreement or something.

    I guess that may be important if I didn't keep forgetting I had an account.
    rmhesche
    • Facebook?!

      Is that thing still around?
      hippiekarl
  • re: Facebook is 'hiding' messages from you

    How is it 'hidden'..... It's never been hidden. It's simply not in bold text because it's a sub-folder of the Inbox.

    And you can't delete messages on FB. You end up archiving them....... Dude... Seriously? Why don't you test this, go download your FB account. Those messages you deleted in '10 are still there. FB doesn't delete anything. EVER. Even when you have an actual delete option (because it does, in fact, say 'archive' when you click the 'x' button), it still stays archived.

    Welcome
    News Feed
    1
    [b]Messages
    [i]Other[/i][/b]
    Events
    Find Friends
    PonyMaker

    See?
    Rilriia
  • Hidden messages

    Well, I sure as heck don't want this folder. I only look at my messages when I get a notification, which sometimes doesn't happen for days.

    None of the messages in my "Other" folder was spam. Not one. But there were some important replies from individuals who I had messaged through fan sites. I "liked" the sites, but didn't know the individual. These were important for my freelance work.

    Some were from FB friends or fan pages I have liked. A couple others were from real live friends who aren't Facebook friends.

    Some of the messages went back almost two years--and one was from Facebook itself!
    lbmonteros
    • have the same issue

      Im trying to communicate and help other people that are trying to do some networking via "liked" pages which are in this case Fitness pages...an I have sent a private message to 12 of them, and its been a week, and not only has none one of them replied to me, but none of them has even read my message...cause fb tells you the time and date they do in the bottom of the message...and now i see why..this other box is absurd...everything is done know through facebook and even when I try to do a good deed I get labeled as a spammer
      Tristan Maravi
  • facebook has gone too far this time

    Im losing contact with important people because of this!! Im trying to communicate and help other people that are trying to do some networking via "liked" pages which are in this case Fitness pages...an I have sent a private message to 12 of them, and its been a week, and not only has none one of them replied to me, but none of them has even read my message...cause fb tells you the time and date they do in the bottom of the message...and now i see why..this other box is absurd...everything is done know through facebook and even when I try to do a good deed I get labeled as a spammer
    Tristan Maravi
  • grrr

    If I already sent the message before friending them, after they accepted my friend request would this unread message automatically go from 'other' into 'inbox' or does it remain ?
    gowdz92
  • Facebook Other Messages.....

    What I would like to know is "HOW" do you check the "other" folder on an iphone or iPad? There is no option for the others folder on the app :-/
    Chellej