Getting messages from someone you don’t know can be a pretty intimidating experience. How did they find you? Why did they reach out?
To make new connections less jarring, Facebook Messenger is introducing a new feature on Thursday that gives you bits of information about someone messaging you for the first time, whether the person is one of your Facebook friends or not. The Messenger team is rolling it out to iOS and Android users in the U.S., UK, France and India over the next few weeks.
Think of it almost like an icebreaker, or “a way to give you more context about new conversations in Messenger,” a Facebook spokesperson told Mashable.
When someone messages you for the first time, Messenger plucks bits of information from their Facebook profile, like what their job is, which town or city they live in, and who your mutual friends are (if you have any), then displays that info above their first message, alongside their profile name and photo, like so:
The new feature is similar to one offered in Hello, the app Facebook quietly rolled out in April, which gives Android smartphone owners tidbits of information about the person on the other end of the line.
Messenger’s new context feature is somewhat similar to the one in Hello, the Android app Facebook released in April, only savvier.
But the feature people will see in Messenger is a tad more savvy. It shows information Facebook thinks will prove most useful, while respecting both users’ privacy settings. That’s key, especially if you and the other person aren’t actually friends on Facebook — in which case, only publicly available information on your profiles is used.
It’s a small feature in the big scheme of things for Messenger but one that makes sense. Facebook already sits on data from 1.44 billion active monthly users, so why not use some of their publicly available information to give a little context about new folks who message you? And of course, if the feature helps boost Messenger’s user engagement — the more friends you message, the more time you spend on the service — it’s a win-win.