Facebook made its big “email” announcement, and yes, you will be able to get an @facebook.com email address.” It’s not all about email, however, as CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained. It’s about “seamless” integration across email, IM, SMS, and all these ways of communication.
It’s also about “conversation history”, meaning you can keep a running dialogue with everybody you communicate with in a continuous thread for each person or each group of people.
“Five years from now, you’re just going to have this full, rich history,” Zuckerberg says of the conversation history feature. Facebook’s Andrew Bosworth compared it to having a box full of letters between boyfriend and girlfriend from the beginning of the relationship to the present.
Users do have the ability to delete conversations.
Finally, it’s also about a “social inbox”, which is where message prioritization comes in. Facebook will use the information it knows about who your friends are (based on the user’s friends list and their friends’ friends list) to prioritize the messages it thinks you’ll be really interested in.
The concept is not so much about spam filtering, but actually filtering for the messages from the people who you really care about. “There are a lot of different classes of junk,” says Zuckerberg, suggesting that there are a lot of legitimate messages that you don’t actually care what they are saying.
It will place priority on friends and friends’ friends. There will then be another folder that will have stuff like bills, pages liked, etc. It’s not spam, but not stuff you care about as much as the friends’ messages (although, I’d suggest bills might deserve higher priority than some of the stuff your friends [or especially friends of friends] are saying). Then there’s the junk folder for spam.
Is Facebook’s New System a Danger to Email?
“This is not an email killer. This is a messaging system that includes email as one part of it.”
“We don’t expect anyone to wake up tomorrow and say, ‘Ok, I’m going to shut down my Yahoo Mail account or my Gmail account,” Zuckerberg said. He later added that maybe one day people will start to say that email isn’t as important as it was before, thought it “will always be a part.”
“I think Gmail’s a really good product,” he also noted during a Q&A session, responding to a lot of the press painting the announcement as a “Gmail killer.”
“Relatively soon, we’ll probably all stop using arbitrary ten digit numbers and bizarre sequences of characters to contact each other,” adds Joel Seligstein on the Facebook blog. “We will just select friends by name and be able to share with them instantly. We aren’t there yet, but the changes today are a small first step.”
Admittedly, there is something attractive about that concept, and lots of users are bound to agree. Still, the system faces an enormous hurdle – trust. Facebook doesn’t exactly have the best reputation when it comes to privacy and user data, but that hasn’t stopped users from continuing to share massive amounts of information with the service, so that may not be as big a hurdle as it would seem.
More details on Facebook’s announcements here. The company also sent us this information sheet: