Facebook to Test a News Feed to Private Message Feature

messages_iconAccording to a recent article in Tech Crunch, Facebook plans on adding a private messaging feature for a small test group of users. Users will be able to use the status update composer located in the news feed to send private Facebook messages.This addition is an effort to combat Google Hangouts and Gmail messaging features, though it may also pose an unforeseen privacy risk.

The new private messaging system is designed to boost engagement between Facebook and its users, encouraging them to check back more frequently on mobile platforms. However, as Tech Crunch points out, the feature also dramatically increases the risk of user’s publicly posting content they believe to be a private message.

“If it’s not clear whether users are posting to the feed or messaging privately, they might mistakenly expose a message to all of their friends when then meant it to be seen by just one person,” Tech Crunch’s Josh Constantine wrote. “Expect Facebook to use some kind of highly noticeable design flags to signify the difference. Facebook already adds a striped border to the status box when you set the privacy on a post to ‘Only Me’.”

Facebook is likely testing first with a small group of users to weigh their responses and fix any glitches that may arise, particularly privacy-related problems. What do you think about the messaging system? Will it increase Facebook usability or just create privacy confusion?