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Facebook Tests Service Letting Users Pay for E-Mails

Facebook Inc. is testing a tool that will let users pay to send an e-mail message to another member, even if they aren’t connected as friends on the world’s largest social network.

Facebook said the test will start with a “small number of people” and will charge an unspecified fee to ensure a message gets sent to the main inbox -- rather than a lower-priority queue -- of another user, even a stranger. Facebook will test different fees, starting initially at about $1 per e-mail, according to a person with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because pricing is private.

“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 Menlo Park, California-based company said on its website.

Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg is looking for new sources of revenue amid a stock drop of 28 percent since Facebook’s initial public offering in May. The messaging feature takes a cue from LinkedIn Corp., the business-focused social-media company that gives premium-paying users added flexibility in sending messages to people outside their network.

The pay-for-e-mail trial program will only work between individuals in the U.S., Facebook said.

The company also announced other changes to its messaging service, adding filters that let users control how they can be contacted by friends or those outside their network.

Facebook shares fell less than 1 percent to $27.36 at the close in New York.

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