I’m sure by now you’ve heard about this.
On Monday, Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the world’s largest social network plans to launch an updated version of its messaging service that will allow users to send emails and SMS text messages from inside their Facebook Messages account, and that the Palo Alto, California-based company will enable the site’s more than 500 million users to each have their own “@facebook.com” email address.
“We don’t think that a modern messaging system will be email,” Mr. Zuckerberg said during a presentation to announce the new service.
It’s times like this that I realize just what an old fogey I really am.
Though e-mail is still a primary form of communication for older adults, recent studies suggest this is not the case for young people. Text messaging has surpassed face-to-face contact, e-mail, phone calls and instant messaging as the primary form of communication for U.S. teens, according to a 2009 survey from the Pew Internet and American Life Project.
Yeah, I don’t see text messages replacing email for me any time soon, or ever, and I hate IM with the fiery intensity of a thousand suns. I’ll just be over here in the corner, muttering about these damn kids and their newfangled ways.
Back to the original story:
“It’s not email, it handles email in addition to Facebook Messages … it’s true people are going to be able to have Facebook.com email address, but it’s not email,” Mr. Zuckerberg said.
Mr. Zuckerberg said users will be able to have an @facebook.com email address that matches their public user name. However, he said the new service goes beyond email and will allow users to integrate text messaging, email and Facebook chat. Users will also be able to send attachments through the new Facebook Messages platform.
As well, in an effort to combat spam, users who adjust their privacy settings to accept messages from only their friends will have all other emails bounced away from their inbox.
I dunno. The problem with the white-list approach to spam fighting is that sometimes you do need and want to receive a message from someone with whom you do not have a pre-existing relationship. I suppose in this model, you’d need to accept a friend request from them first, to which my reaction is that I don’t necessarily want anything more from them than an exchange of information.
Lifehacker quantifies another concern I have about this.
According to a report from last year by DNS service OpenDNS, Facebook was the second most commonly blocked web site on the internet, second to MySpace. You won’t find an email provider among that top 10 list.
That doesn’t mean that every workplace blocks Facebook or that no workplaces block Gmail, but the prerequisite to communication is access, and a lot of people who can’t access Facebook from work can still access their email accounts. In theory, Facebook Messages could get around this problem by sending you messages via SMS, but unless you want to do all your “emailing” from your phone, that’s not much of a solution.
Yeah, I know, everyone has a smartphone for this stuff these days, but if you’re actually at your desk at work, fooling around on your phone all day looks bad. At least if you’re checking your Gmail account on the work PC, you’re in position to easily switch over to whatever else you need to be doing. I guess I’d need to know more about what all of this means, but my initial reaction is that it’s not anything that would make me leave Gmail. Did I mention that I’m really old? For more, see TechCrunch and Dwight. What do you think about this?