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Facebook Email and Social Messaging
Facebook Email and Social Messaging
Published by popowich
Monday, November 15th, 2010
Default Facebook Email and Social Messaging

Earlier today Facebook made the official announcement about their new email and social messaging functionality. The goal of the service is to create a way for Facebook users to easily communicate with the people that they care most about. Who seems to be the intended target audience for the Facebook messaging system? Young people who primarily communicate by text message. If you prefer to text and tweet and send other instant communications then the new Facebook messaging system could be for you!

Facebook is trying to create a service that works like a web based text messaging interface. The system will expand the existing Facebook messages feature enabling your Facebook account to communicate quickly with anyone on the internet. It will not matter if your contacts use Facebook because the Facebook system uses existing internet protocols for communicating with your contacts. It will be up to you to specify if a contact prefers to communicate with email, instant messaging, some other messaging system. In this way the system makes sense. You do not need to disrupt how your contacts prefer to send and receive messages by forcing them to use Facebook when they want to communicate with you.

It is unclear if you can group multiple contact preferences for a person into a single conversation. If someone has my Gmail, IM, and facebook email addresses will messages from all three of those sources be grouped into a single conversation on Facebook?

Anyone with a Facebook account will have the option to get a new email account @Facebook.com. Existing facebook users will not be required to get a facebook email account. The employees at Facebook are changing domains and will be using @fb.com email accounts going forward.

The facebook messaging system will group your messages into conversations and sort them based on contact name. Each person that you communicate with will have a single ongoing conversation with you. Every message to/from this person becomes a part of the conversation. The concept of threading conversations by subject will be lost in this system. All messages, regardless of the subject, will be grouped into a single ongoing conversation per contact.

It does not seem like there will be a mechanism for filtering messages based on content. Facebook assumes that if you are friends with someone then you want the messages from them. If you have a contact that sends junk forwards 95% of the time and sends legitimate email the other 5% it's just something that you are going to have to deal with if you choose to use the Facebook messaging system to communicate with that person.

Facebook conversations will be grouped into one of three main folder categories. The categories are :
  1. Main - The messages that you want to see instantly
  2. Other - The messages that Facebook isn't sure if you want to see
  3. Junk - Spam and other messages that you do not want to see
The three folder setup is designed to be a simple reputation system. The problem is that Facebook does not really know who you want to receive messages from. A lot of training will be involved just like any other email or spam filtering system. Will messages from your Zynga game "friends" go to your Main folder? Will the holiday email from your mom end up in the Other or Junk folder? Facebook messaging users will need to train a "whitelist email from my important contacts, and block the rest" system for receiving messages from their "friends". The system is not meant to group contacts into groups of people that matter and don't matter. Facebook assumes that everyone within your social network is someone that matters to you.

My guess is that users will need to spend time manually checking the Other folder daily for messages that have been miscategorized. Also, what happens if you receive a spam From: a contact? Facebook is new to filtering incoming email. I suspect that the system will do a poor job of filtering spam that is From: your friends email addresses whether it's sent by a spammer or a spammer that actually got into your friend email account.

When asked the employees of Facebook did not have a clear answer for the amount of storage that will be available to users of the messaging system. As long as you are not abusing the system to send spam you will be allowed to store as many conversations as needed? Unlimited? Some big number? Hoe many incoming and outgoing messages per day?

What happens to conversation To: two or more of your contacts?

What happens if you receive email from mailing lists From: the senders instead of the list addresses?

Facebook will need to store the email addresses for all of your contacts so that they can properly group messages from them together in the same conversation.

Facebook will allow members to forward individual messages from a conversation.

If you are someone who prefers to communicate instantly with contacts then facebook messaging could be a nice service for you, but if you are someone who prefers email over text and instant messaging then I suspect that Facebook Messaging will become another one of your throwaway email accounts.



  #1  
By popowich on Tuesday, November 16th, 2010
Default Re: Facebook Email and Social Messaging

It is now 24 hours later and we have had a day to absorb that Facebook announcement and what it means for the future direction of email. I also think it's interesting that I just received an email at Gmail and sent a TY reply back to the sender using Skype. I beleive most of the time I confuse people when I jump around different messaging systems while communicating with them. For me different messaging systems have different priorities :
  • Email - the content is important to me, but read and reply when it is convenient for you
  • Instant Messaging - The content might be important to me, but I'm expecting a faster reply than email
  • Text Message - I am expecting a quick reply (I generally don't text)
  • Phone call - I need to talk to you now (I rarely make phone calls)
If I use a different messaging system such as Facebook or a Private Message it is generally because I don't have your email address and the priority falls between email and instant messaging. I want a reply, but don't want to interrupt you with a phone call. Maybe I'm too nice.

What's the point? There is a break between my preferred communication methods and what I think is important vs. how other people might prefer to communicate and the priority they have for any given communication from me. Facebook Messaging starts to bring this together by having all of my messages from the people I care about in one place, but lets others determine how they will be receiving responses back from me.

Is Facebook Messaging an email killer? I don't think so, but I do think it's the first step in making communications generally more instant for a lot of people, especially younger people in their teens and 20's. My biggest argument against using Facebook for messaging is that I don't trust Facebook. For example I avoid putting any information on Facebook that I would not want my mom to see, or would not want sold to the highest bidder. Google has tried to add chat and other instant services to Gmail but I do not use those either. Is it because I don't want all of my eggs in one basket? Is it because I'm older and used to using different programs for different priority messages? I think Facebook has done what it is going to do, but it's going to be a future more trusted company that comes along that will create the next big change in how people message by combining email, IM, texting, and twitter into one integrated messaging system.
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  #2  
By Big Dan on Tuesday, November 16th, 2010
Default Re: Facebook Email and Social Messaging

I'm pretty much the same as you, Ray. Email is my preferred way to communicate. I treat private messages on forums and social networks pretty much the same as email but knock them down in priority a bit because it's an outpost meaning I have to leave my email and go somewhere else that probably doesn't have auto-saving of drafts..blah.

To me instant messaging and text messages are one and the same. Text messages are just a direct contact point instead of waiting for someone to sign on to IM. I can text all day but don't use it for much more then general chit chat.

Phone calls are just a waste of time for me. Generally only Luddites and close family/friends get phone time. Video calls are pretty much the same, I don't see the point unless it's a faraway friend/family member.

At any rate I'm not all that excited about FB's new email thingamabobber, I'll most likely ignore it.
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  #3  
By popowich on Tuesday, November 16th, 2010
Default Re: Facebook Email and Social Messaging

Why do the youngsters like the instant conversations? Are the teens overvaluing the importance of their communications? Texting can be interpreted as "I am speaking, listen to me, NOW!" You can experience it in their regular voice conversations too. More and more people expect you to drop whatever you are doing if they start talking regardless of if you are already focused and in the middle of another task. Facebook made the analogy that instant everything to us in our 30s is like what going from sending postal mail to email was for our parents. Instant everything might be the future whether we like it or not.
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  #4  
By popowich on Tuesday, November 16th, 2010
Default Re: Facebook Email and Social Messaging

For instant everything to work all of your "devices" need to be instant enabled.

Cell phones and laptops with wireless have internet access.

Will we start seeing TV's with built in wireless internet that can display your friends tweets in the top corner while you are watching your favorite TV show? TV that going split screen and also displays an incoming web cam call from your mom?

Some massive family room TV screen that is your computer, TV, and real time scrolling social media in a sidebar?
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  #5  
By Big Dan on Tuesday, November 16th, 2010
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Why do the youngsters like the instant conversations? Are the teens overvaluing the importance of their communications? Texting can be interpreted as "I am speaking, listen to me, NOW!" You can experience it in their regular voice conversations too. More and more people expect you to drop whatever you are doing if they start talking regardless of if you are already focused and in the middle of another task. Facebook made the analogy that instant everything to us in our 30s is like what going from sending postal mail to email was for our parents. Instant everything might be the future whether we like it or not.
I don't understand it either. It must of just happened at the tail end of my generation because it annoys the crap out of me; Yet some people my age behave this way too. Even some friends my age they expect me answer a text any time 24/7. If I don't respond right away, I get 'WHY ARE YOU IGNORING ME?!?!?!?" I'm not ignoring you just my life doesn't revolve around you. With texts I don't expect an instant answer unless we're already involved in a conversation. Sort of like a phone call. I don't expect everyone I call to pick up.

On the other hand, I get annoyed if someone doesn't answer an IM within a few minutes. If you aren't available to chat you shouldn't be signed in as globally available. Put "I'm mobile" or set your status to busy or something. Yahoo in particular annoys me. When people sign in from their old school cell phones via text message and they show as online but messages seemed to be delayed significantly 70%-80% of the time. By the time I get a reply I've already signed off and probably muttered screw 'em under my breath.

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For instant everything to work all of your "devices" need to be instant enabled.

Cell phones and laptops with wireless have internet access.

Will we start seeing TV's with built in wireless internet that can display your friends tweets in the top corner while you are watching your favorite TV show? TV that going split screen and also displays an incoming web cam call from your mom?

Some massive family room TV screen that is your computer, TV, and real time scrolling social media in a sidebar?
Well we're already seeing 'Smart TVs' with Twitter, FB, etc integration not to mention some IPTV companies are doing too (FIOS, I think) are already doing it. Google TV does video calling as well as the social junk. It's not that far off until it hits the mainstream. Think another 5 years or so.

Personally, I like my TV dumb. The most I'd like it to do is stream from Netflix/Amazon/Local Media leave the social crap out of it. I don't want to be sitting in my draws on the couch and have a video call pop up because I forgot to sign off Skype, Gmail, or whatever other video service there is.

As I see it a big problem is going to be fragmentation of Apps. We all ready see it somewhat with iOS vs. Android. From what I've read it the Facebook app is laughable on Android when compared to iOS. That's not even bringing Palm's WebOS, Blackberry, etc into the mix. What happens when you have 20 different settop boxes plus another 10-15 'smart TV' manus all with different implementations of apps? Unless every device includes a browser and everything is provided via that interface it's a going to be a nightmare for consumers, manus, and providers.

BTW: Multi-quote isn't working here in GARS
Last edited by Big Dan; Tuesday, November 16th, 2010 at 05:00 PM.. Reason: merge
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