There are two things you should know about Facebook’s new messaging service. 1. “It’s not an e-mail;” people can still use their Gmail, it’s not killing it. And 2. ‘it’s a conversation with people you care about’; Facebook’s director of engineering, Andrew Bosworth, likened the new messaging system to his Grandma’s box of letters, in that it’s personal and saves history. These are the points they made sure to iterate throughout their presentation yesterday.
This new ‘modern messaging system’ consists of ‘seamless messaging, cross-platform conversation, and the social inbox’. The first two components ‘seamless messaging’ and ‘cross-platform conversation’ go hand-in-hand. Bosworth said “we are more connected today than at any time previous in history, but our communication is fragmented,” this messaging system will help us be seamless and constant in conversation. Your conversation, though it may be fragmented, will appear to you in your inbox as one, long streaming interaction since users can receive messages to one central hub, no matter if it was sent from a text message, an online chat, or from e-mail. And unlike e-mail, there will be no subject headers or separate e-mail messages which cause fragmentation. It becomes a single conversation even if took place over many different mediums of communication, so you don’t have to worry about the technology, you just have to worry about the person and the message, claims Bosworth.
All these messages are sent to the third component, the ‘social inbox.’ Each user will have a Facebook.com address that is connected to the inbox. Since facebook knows your friends, it will have an easy to manage filtering system that make sure you get the messages from people you care about; I would say this is kinda like the Gmail priority inbox that was recently introduced. This filtering system makes sure your inbox will not be compromised by spam or by a businesses who happens to come across you e-mail address. Using Bosworth’s metaphor, the social inbox will be the box that holds all your letters.
This whole new messaging service came about because Facebook says traditional e-mails are too slow for the modern world of messaging. Hopefully this form of messaging will take over, but first they will slowly roll it out to remove bugs and glitches and retool based on user experiences before it goes mainstream. To try this out, you will have to wait for a personal Facebook invite! If you’re invited, definitely check it out, as Bosworth claims this is one of the biggest projects Facebook has taken on.
I’ll leave you with one concern about this messaging service; privacy. Could this ambitious new system heighten Facebook’s privacy issue that haunts them? Facebook will become a ‘box’ of personal information that isn’t hidden in our attic in a fireproof, entry-proof box, but on the internet. Is Facebook secure enough to hold all of this personal information, like our banking?
Check out the Facebook blog for a little more detail and a nice video for imagery: See the Messages that Matter