Facebook Has Been Filtering Your Private Messages

For the last 6 years, Facebook has hidden hundreds of private messages that have been sent to me. Some were fans, some were friends, and many were job offers. 

This discovery was a shock to me and I wrote a post about it on my Facebook wall. I quickly learned that about 50% of my Facebook friends already knew about this. I did a quick Google and Youtube search and thousands of results popped up about it. Apparently I had missed them all. 

I wasn't the only person to have missed this news though. About 50% of my Facebook friends hadn't heard of this either and when they checked their own account, they too had missed tons of messages and in many cases job offers. 

 

To find these hidden Facebook messages go to Facebook on a computer. Click on the messages icon at the top of the page. Click "Message Requests." You may find some hidden messages here. To find even more filtered messages click on "See filtered requests."

 

Although about half of my friends have already known about this strange filtering system, many of them forget to ever check it. After telling Mike Kelley about my discovery he said that he heard about this years ago but it had been 6 months since he checked it last. He had tons of unread messages. Here's a great one from a "fan" of his. 

So even if you do know about this filtering system, this is a reminder to check it because chances are, people out there think you're purposefully snubbing them. 

 

Obviously the readers of this website are probably much more tech savy than the average Facebook user so I would expect more of you to know about this than my Facebook friends but I am curious what percentage of you check this on a regular basis. Please fill out the poll below. 

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41 Comments
Chris Himstedt's picture

Thanks for sharing this. I was unaware of this, but not surprised at all.
(Hope this doesn't get filtered) ;-)

Lee Morris's picture

We are filter free :)

Chris Himstedt's picture

That part was a joke.

Jaron Schneider's picture

Not the greatest system they have set up for this. In the history of connections on the internet, usually a PM is the best way to reach someone without going through a "friend acceptance" or "connection" rigamarole. Facebook is kind of the first brand to sort of get rid of that possibility.

Lee Morris's picture

I've never fully understood the difference between "friends" and "follow" on Facebook but I always assumed that when I sent someone a private message that I wasn't "friends" with, they were getting it. I guess not. I wonder why Facebook wants this. Obviously they don't want you overrun with spammers but at the same time they are losing out on so much interaction.

Stu G.'s picture

It's simple really, if you understand where Facebook is coming from;

Friends was meant for actual friends and acquaintances (that you know in real life). This was long before Facebook pages and a personal profile was limited to 5000 "friends". Nobody has 5000 actual friends. The average number of friends and acquaintances a persons knows is 300 or less.

However, if your profile was public and you were some sort of celebrity (even just on the internet) or offered great content, the only way people could follow you was becoming your "friend". This would reach the 5000 limit pretty quickly.

Next step was Facebook "Pages" for businesses and public figures. So if you reached your 5000 followers on your personal profile, you would instead direct them to your Facebook "Page" where there was no limit and people could just follow you.

I guess the need arose to still have a more personalized profile without marketing it strictly as a business or other impersonable entity, so Facebook introduced "followers", much like Twitter. As long as a "personal" profile is public and they allow followers, anyone can subscribe to it to get updates in their feed.

Now if you put yourself in the shoes of a celebrity, business or just a hot-looking person that has hundreds or thousands of followers, where every fan, creep or troll tries to send you a message, your inbox would be filled up with spam and it would be impossible to find your important messages from real friends and family. - Hence, the messages get filtered. You only get inbox messages from your actual "friends" that you accepted through a friend request. Everything else goes straight into the spam (filtered) folder and you will get no notification about it. It's up to you whether you want to deal with spam and check that folder periodically.

Don't feel too bad for not knowing how Facebook works, apparently your "fans" or prospective clients do not either. Otherwise, they would have known that the only way to get your attention is to either send a friend request (which is questionable if you don't know the person) or to post on your wall.

It is not about Facebook not wanting interaction (they sure as hell do) but they do not want people and businesses harassed and then leaving, which ultimately would result in less interaction.

If you really want to make it easy for random people to contact you, prominently provide an email address for such purposes on your profile.

Ariel Martini's picture

thanks for the tip, i've lost this very valuable conversation :(

Jason Ranalli's picture

I didn't even know about this.

How do they decide what to filter and what not to filter?

Lee Morris's picture

I think you only get messages from your "friends". Everything else goes here

Ciaran McGrenera's picture

You can also check on the Facebook Messenger app on iPhone, but it's even more well hidden there:

Go to "Settings"/ "People"/ "Message Requests"

You'll see some messages straight away, but at the bottom of the list you have to click a link to see "Filtered Requests".

Jeroen de Jong's picture

Seems you've got somethig to do the next couple of months :D :D

Lee Morris's picture

I haven't even started going through them. I may never bother at this point.

Dave Kavanagh's picture

Cheers Lee. I knew about the Message Requests folder alright but not the filtered section. I swear FB gets more of a chore to use every day.

Igor Butskhrikidze's picture

thanks for this post i found these hidden messages i never knew there were so many ppl who want to communicate...

ALEXANDER TARDIF's picture

Oh man, that's not cool. I have a few dozen from like, years ago. Sure enough, some were requests for my work and others for collaboration! Gotta love FB :) Thanks Lee...

Ben Sandness's picture

HOLY SHIT WHAT THE FUCK???

Ian Johns's picture

Is it normal to be sad that my Message Requests folder was completely empty? I now have a new goal to make it in this business so I have to worry about checking this section periodically.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

Welcome to the Internet, Lee :) At least now it is much more visible than "Others" folder before. If you use FB messenger only, you still have no chance to see these messages.

Jeremy Kramer's picture

Wow! I had a ton of filtered messages as well. It is unreal that facebook would do something so dumb.

Sean DeWitt's picture

Sure enough, I had several missed wedding inquiries. That really pisses me off. Thanks for sharing, Lee!

Harrison Barden's picture

Thanks for sharing, I looked and it filtered out messages i would have read for when I was on the school newspaper from editors and some other ones thats messed up I wonder what the cause for some being filtered and some not are.

Matthias Dengler's picture

I recently stumbled upon a photoshooting request on my facebook fan page.
It did not pop-up or whatsoever. Does that happen on Facebook fan pages as well?

Greg Massie's picture

Ditto, two biggies filtered out that could have been jobs. Dammit.

Felix Hernandez's picture

I lost job opportunities because of this ... one year ago I discovered ... I thought i was the only one!!!!

Alric Farmer's picture

OMG: I have been hit...Thanks Lee seeing messages from 2013...Some spam , some shooting requests. Thank you for the information.

Andrea Re Depaolini's picture

I knew this and I always check it. But no one message me :(

Eric Lefebvre's picture

We shopuld start a club. :)

John Flury's picture

Yeah, I lost a publication in an Italian magazine last year because of that. Kind of questionable of them to use facebook for requests though. Ah well...

Felix Wu's picture

Thanks I was totally unaware of this! FB is really Junk of all trades! Lord of the Rubbish and Game of Trash!

Kyle Medina's picture

Yeah I knew about this but that image you shared from the dude being butt hurt,can't be serious. Unless you publicly said contact me for help. He is a salty bitch. Sorry for being so brash.

Eric Lefebvre's picture

Wow ... the guy who bought your course is an entitled jerk! Because he bought your DVD he expects one on one consultations?!?

Facebook has set itself up as a communications hub but then filters our communications ... cause reasons?

Lee Morris's picture

probably to protect people like Mike from people who expect one on one training at any time of the day. I just wish that they made it a little more obvious.

John Rogers's picture

Thank you for sharing this article just found several messages from people wanting to purchase some of my work. Don't understand why FB would do this...why don't they let me decide which messages I want to read?

Oz Photo's picture

I don't know why people are surprised when they find their every move is tracked on social media and that things are hidden. None of these companies give you anything for free. You always pay one way or another. They data mine everything you do. Don't expect them to be transparent because that does not exist!

M D's picture

You have to be crazy to use Facebook. Never have, never will.

wesjones's picture

Sure enough, I had some messages there also. In my case the filter worked to my advantage, all I had were requests from Ukrainian ladies looking for a husband.

Brian Buchalski's picture

The poll needs an option for "Don't use Facebook precisely because of sketchy, nonsensical crap like this".

Palmer Woodrow's picture

This is why you don't use Facebook, Twitter, or any other inept third-party junk to run your business. It can be taken away at any moment, and it's often incompetent.

Get your own domain and a hosting provider, and set up a proper Web site.

Ione Ascanio green's picture

You would wonder why on EARTH FB would do something like this, when they are trying people to use it as a work tool, yet they make it hard for you to rely on this as a work tool. I also stumbled upon this a while back but never remember to check it. Does anyone know a way of AVOIDING this from happening????

Rob Mynard's picture

Yeah I had two wedding enquiries from over a year ago, I'm going to reply to them and apologise just in case anyone ever mentions me to them, I don't want them telling people I don't answer my messages...

Anton Violin's picture

Thanks a lot for this information Lee, I found several overdue offers too