Facebook has started introducing Private Messages for Pages, a new method of connecting consumers with the businesses they follow on the social network -- but in a way that's less social than before.
Instead of relying on public wall posts to chat with brands and air grievances -- like 60 percent price increases on movie rentals -- Private Messages for Pages, currently inching out in Asia, takes the conversation behind closed doors, according to multiple sources.
Thankfully, businesses cannot instigate the ninth circle of Spam Hell by sending unsolicited messages to consumers; it only works the other way around, although page admins will have the ability to confidentially respond to public wall posts or opt-out of the service altogether.
Shrouding the chatter could prove helpful for businesses that would rather deal with customer service issues away from the public record, or for users with a private matter that wouldn't be appropriate appearing on friends' news feeds. Private Messages for Pages is also a boon for community-building for brands, and another avenue for customer support outside of phone queues and emails.
But there's a negative flip side, too. If a business page simply doesn't like the breed of content that's appearing on its wall, it can delete the wall post and privatize the conversation out of other users' sight. While the matter would still be addressed, it could mute problems that could affect a larger number of customers.
Besides that, Private Messages for Pages fundamentally negates the "social" aspect of a social network, which makes me question why Facebook users would contact a business page in the first place.