Facebook Messaging


With their most recent development Facebook will be bringing together Facebook chat, email and SMS into one location for users: Facebook Messaging.

Facebook released their unified social inbox just two days ago. Facebook messages will now be aggregated together, including emails and every Facebook user will be able to get a @facebook.com email ID.

Even with 500 million subscribers Facebook is giving itself another challenge in offering email services. Its big three main competitors in email are Gmail, Yahoo! and Windows Live Hotmail. Facebook still dwarfs them in terms of user numbers.

If users changed their email platform to Facebook and ditched their usual provider it would be a huge blow for Gmail, Yahoo! and Windows Live Hotmail.  Their user numbers don't stack up quite so high.

So far, the new email service is invite-only, but Facebook will be rolling out full functionality over the coming months. Message threading won’t be part of the mix, there will be no IMAP email messaging support or video/voice capabilities either. Not initially, at least. The word from Facebook is that these features will be lined up in the future but not for the initial launch.

Do you really want to spend more time on Facebook?

I don’t want to spend all my time on Facebook. I spend too long on stalker book anyway. It devours my time like a bulimic at a buffet.


The downside of all of this is that the value of compromised accounts will go up for spammers, increasing the likelihood of them attacking.

At the same time, users are more willing to trust Facebook. They’re less accustomed to getting spammed through Facebook than say Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo! and they’re more inclined to open a slightly suspect email if it’s from someone they think they know.

According to net security specialists Sophos, Facebook accounts will now be linked with many more people in the user’s social circle, opening up new opportunities and identifying fraudsters to launch attacks.

But the biggest issue is the fact that Facebook will now be storing a complete archive of all their communications with one person. That data can be misused if it fell into the wrong hands.

Death of Email?

It’s not to say that it will be the 'mail killer' or the death of email.  Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at the press conference that announced the move, “email is still really important to a lot of people.” Facebook messaging is not a Gmail killer by any means.   Marketers can’t over react yet. A lot of people will shift their one-to-one messaging to this “simpler messaging system” but how broadly it will be accepted is still undeterminable.

Things don’t happen that quickly.  When Gmail was launched it took a good 5 years to take over from AOL as an email platform. The same things were said back then that are being said today– that Gmail would knock AOL off its pedestal. That turned out to be only partly true.

Facebook already has a large built-in userbase, more than the other three email providers combined. Most Facebook users people will want to try it out. Sell on the novelty factor to start with. Things might not even change that quickly or that dramatically.

It’s not quite time to go home and delete your Yahoo account, it might not ever be time for that. At the time of Gmail launching in 2004 it was heralded as the “AOL Killer”. Hardly. AOL is a lot smaller today than it was in 2004, but it hasn’t exactly disappeared. It’s still one of the world’s top email providers.

Photo (cc) Franco Bouly.