On Monday, Facebook announced a number of enhancements that will be coming to the popular social network’s messaging utility. Facebook Messages is a simple private messaging utility (similar to e-mail) that manages an ad-hoc conversation thread — where the formality of a Facebook group is not available but exposure on a social stream is not appropriate. Messages are organized into four buckets: Messages (an inbox), Updates, Sent and a new one called “Other.”
- These enhancements provide the ability to contribute to Facebook message threads using SMS, chat, or e-mail. SMS contributions will use existing Facebook SMS mechanisms. "Chat" means Facebook Chat.
- E-mail can be contributed to a message thread (as in a reply) or addressed to a specific user via an @facebook.com address.
- Facebook will determine the (Facebook) identity of the sender of an incoming e-mail message. This identity is used to filter the message.
- Messages are filtered based on Facebook privacy settings. A user can allow messages from friends only, friends of friends, or everyone (all e-mail goes through).
- E-mail messages sent to an @facebook.com address that do not make it through these filters (listed above) could show up in a new bucket: Other. Messages may also be bounced back to the sender. Specific privacy settings determine what happens to these messages (see this FAQ page for details).
- Facebook users can remove themselves from a message thread to stop receiving updates.
- Files can be attached to e-mail sent to @facebook.com addresses.
- Users can provide a traditional e-mail address to receive messages in the form of email@example.com.
- Facebook’s search will now operate across streams, friends, and messages.
- Facebook Messages does not replace e-mail systems as we know them today. This update is about improving the service’s existing messaging capabilities and unifying the experience across multiple messaging options.
- This is aimed at users who primarily (or only) use Facebook, which could be an enormous number of people. However, there are features in Facebook Messages that power e-mail users will wish they had, such as removing themselves from an e-mail thread.
- This provides Facebook the ability to support messaging scenarios where e-mail is allowed but applications cannot be installed (e.g., locked-down PCs).
- With Facebook now serving 500M users and counting, a successful Facebook Messages utility could result in a new popular online messaging metaphor.
- This qualifies as a unified communication and collaboration experience in the sense that it unifies multiple methods of participating in Facebook. For many Facebook users, this may be all the unification they need.
- Google Buzz is an attempt to extend e-mail into a social network. Facebook, on the other hand, is extending its social network into e-mail (in a Facebook-centric way).
- Surprisingly, this type of unified experience is similar to what large enterprise vendors, such as Microsoft and IBM, have been marketing for years.
- If successful, Facebook Messages could influence the future of integrated enterprise communication and collaboration. However, how much (if any) influence this will have on enterprise solutions remains to be seen.