Facebook Messenger is great for staying in touch with friends and family, but it’s pretty terrible for reaching out to new contacts you haven’t actually friended yet on the social network. Thankfully, the company has a solution with Message Requests.
The new feature replaces your Other Inbox, which most people rarely looked at. Most of the time that wasn’t an issue, but if there’s something important in that inbox it could go unread for months. The Messenger app for iOS and Android didn’t even offer access to those messages.
Message Requests fixes the issue by replicating the experience of sending a friend request. If someone new tries to send you a message on Facebook it will pop up at the top of the Messenger app. You can look through your requests, and each person won’t know anything until you actually reply.
Messenger chief David Marcus announced the news on Facebook. He argues that the new feature will help the company’s chat app replace the traditional phone number entirely, since all you need now is a name to get in touch with almost anyone on earth.
In one example shared by Marcus, you might get a Message request from a stranger who found your wallet and wants to return it. In that situation they probably have your name but no number to reach you, making Facebook Messenger the best option.
The new feature is set to roll out starting now, though it could be a few days before you get the update. Marcus notes that this is a “foundational development” for the Messenger app, suggesting Facebook could have even bigger plans for those Message Requests moving forward.