Facebook, as was rumoured in several quarters, has announced an update to its Messages service whereby all personal communications with someone via Facebook – including email, SMS, chat and internal messages – are merged into one service.
Though currently invite-only, the new Messages service will also give anyone who wants one an ‘@facebook.com’ address so you can communicate with non-Facebook users via the service. However, in a blog post, a Facebook engineer was at pains to point out this isn’t email in the traditional sense:
‘To be clear, Messages is not email. There are no subject lines, no cc, no bcc, and you can send a message by hitting the Enter key. We modeled it more closely to chat…we wanted to make this more like a conversation.’
It’s not yet clear how messages from ‘@facebook.com’ addresses will look when sent to non-Facebook users, but we’ll be trying the new Messages system out soon to find out how it all works.
All your messages in one place
In practice this means that all your messages to a Facebook friend, be they via email, SMS, instant messaging or using Facebook’s internal message service, will be grouped together. This is what Facebook calls the ‘conversation history’, and it will mean you can see all your ‘conversations’ with someone from beginning to end no matter what you used to make them.
Facebook has put several controls in place to avoid spam and unwanted messages. For instance it’s possible to ‘bounce’ any email message that isn’t from one of your Facebook friends, and by default messages from non-Facebook users are separated in a folder to avoid confusion.
You can apply for an invitation by visiting the Facebook Messages page.
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