Facebook is upping the ante in its war with Google by rolling out a messaging system that email, Facebook messages, chat and SMS
Facebook New Messages invitation (image Computerworld)
Facebook introduced its new messaging system that will include other email accounts like Gmail, along with Facebook messages, chat and SMS.
The long rumored feature is being introduced slowly over the next few months to Facebook’s 500,000 users by invitation.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called the new Facebook feature a “modern messaging system” with convergence of different systems in a social media context. Facebook is said to handle four billion messages every day.
Essentially Facebook is trying to become a hub for messaging. You will be able to add multiple email accounts along with your existing Facebook messaging.
Friends can decide if they want to get mail or SMS. People can be on your email list without being on Facebook so the system has links to external systems.
“People should share however they want to share,” said Andrew Bosworth a Facebook engineer. “If you want to send me an e-mail and I want to get it in a text message, that should work.”
The upside is a more social messaging system. Your mail will come with links to the person’s picture and Facebook profile and posts.
Most people on Facebook use Comments and Notifications to send messages. Actual messages are mainly for private messages and spam from groups you join. There should be a way to indicate spam from Groups without giving the group a hard time.
Facebook, a hub for email, messages, SMS, and friends (image Computerworld)
Sharing is a more subtle and less intrusive way to pass the news on Facebook.
Microsoft announced that MS Office docs would support Facebook message system. You will be able to attach and read Excel, Word and Powerpoint docs using Office web apps. This would apply only to people with a license for MS Office on their desktops, but that is most of the business world.
Facebook rules of engagement
Which brings up a point. Facebook can be trigger happy if you violate their rules of conduct, most of which are not written down. Add too many friends in a hurry and your account can be suspended or deleted.
If people begin to use Facebook as a messaging hub will they be able to mark spam, trash or junk mail without risking the Facebook privileges of their friends, or their own account.
Facebook will have to update their policies to open up the system.
The second question is do people want Facebook to record and save their SMS text messages. Teens can send 300 text messages a day. Some of those messages might contain very personal information. Will Facebook filter or censor them.
Spamming and security
Another concern is security, a continuing sore point with Facebook. Virus attacks like Koobface are common on Facebook. Unless they tighten their security, people risk losing their passwords to email accounts if they are linked to Facebook.
Spammers will certainly attack Facebook messaging. A pool of 500,000 users is too target rich to avoid repeated and successful attacks.
Despite the risks, people will use the service as soon as they are invited. Facebook has captured the hearts and minds of half a billion people. The allure of Facebook is hard to resist, despite its drawbacks.
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