Facebook is rolling out a transformational new feature called Facebook Messaging that combines email, texting and chat in a way that takes advantage each platform’s strengths, yet remains part of a single conversation.
Of course messaging has always been a part of Facebook. You’ve been able to send email-style private messages, chat and even send text message for years. It’s just that they were separated. Now, each person is seen as one ongoing private conversation—regardless of the topic or type of communication.
Key to this are your list of Facebook Friends and a facebook.com email address. With the new Facebook Messaging, you’ll see an inbox with the most recent message from each of your friends. There’s another folder for people who aren’t friends and send email to your facebook.com email address. You can always move people (even your Friends) between your Friends and general mailboxes.
The Facebook Messaging feature that really caught my eye, though, was the ability to fairly seamlessly transfer a conversation with someone from email to text messaging to chat and back again according to whatever is most convenient or appropriate. The example that was given concerned a lunch invitation where the conversation started on email and then moved to text messaging when there was a last minute change of plans. A very useful feature.
Of course, what would a Facebook article be without some privacy concerns?
All of your communications—email, chat, texting—will be recorded indefinitely, in one place, by Facebook. A company that has had issues in the past with privacy. This isn’t a new issue, of course—you always have to assume that anything you commit to electronic bits and share with someone else could go public. But having it all in one place increases the risk.
But in my mind, the potential convenience far outweighs the privacy concerns. This is a new feature from Facebook that I’m looking forward to trying.
Facebook Messaging is available by invitation only, for now, and will be rolled-out gradually to all Facebook users over the next few months.