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Facebook Attempts To Reinvent E-mail

Facebook has finally taken the wraps off of its long-rumored e-mail messaging product. But don’t call it e-mail! Seriously, they pounded that into everyone’s heads during their announcement this morning.

The new Facebook Messaging system is attempting to unify your e-mail, SMS text messages, IM conversations and Facebook Messages into one inbox system. In the demonstration given this morning, someone who likes e-mail sends you a message at your @facebook.com e-mail address, but you see it show up on your screen as a message. You reply in the Facebook IM system, but the person you are talking to receives it as an e-mail. You then leave your computer and the person sends you a follow-up, you will receive it on your iPhone as a push notification (or via text message if you are on another phone or prefer that method).

Facebook LogoWhere things get really odd with this product is in the historical view. Lets say that another TechnoBuffalo writer and I are exchanging messages for months with different subject lines, where a standard e-mail product like Gmail would create a different thread for each, but Facebook would put this into one long, ever growing thread. All the communications — SMS, IM and so on — goes there also, so you will have a supposedly complete history of all your communications between one another.

The other aspect will be in filtering.  Your inbox will be divided into three sections: Messages, Other and Junk.  Messages will be from the people you have the most connections with, the Other box will be for things such as bills, fare alerts and so on and of course, Spam is for tasty canned ham treats.  And, yes, you can move people from the Other box to the main box, and vice-versa.

Facebook inbox

The product is currently going to be going through a staged roll out, so you may not see this product show up for a little bit. Your e-mail address will be the same as your username on the system, so hopefully you picked one you can live with.

As for reading this off of Facebook, the company is planning IMAP support which means you can read a synced version of the conversations, but you won’t be downloading them to keep (surprise, surprise).

In short, Facebook is getting its hooks into every aspect of your digital conversations. If this is a good thing remains to be seen.

What say you? Will you be giving this new product a try?


Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...

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