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November 15, 2010

Facebook email on the Horizon

By Ai Lung Nguyen - November 2010.

TECHNOLOGY - Facebook has announced plans to introduce an email service for all of their 500 million Facebook users. ie. yourname@facebook.com.

But in reality what this really is is an attempt by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to compete the big names in email business: Yahoo!, Hotmail and Gmail.

The new service will be phased in over the coming months and include a Gmail-style continuous conversation, but will organize conversations according to priority. Thus new messages your bitter ex-boy/girlfriend from 8 years ago will rank lower on the list than the messages from your current lover. And spam will be filtered / lowered to the bottom of the priority list that it hopefully won't even be seen.

Facebook first announced "Project Titan" last February but has been dragging its feet on releasing the details for fear of leaks of its “Gmail killer” project from reaching the ears of its rivals.

Rivals like Hotmail, which dominates with 364 million users. Or Yahoo! with 273 million users... and the fast growing Gmail (up 21% in the last year), which has 193 million and only went public in 2007 (beta testing began in 2004).

Email providers have become increasingly aggressive in recent years in both ease of use and the quality of their service, mostly because Gmail upped the game.

Of course there will be problems...

#1. Facebook is already a heavy target for spam on groups and pages. This has the potential to make it worse.

#2. Not everyone likes Facebook. Many people are simply boycotting it because they believe it is a complete waste of time. They are partially correct.

#3. Do you really want ANOTHER email address that has to be checked regularly? I think not.

#4. Facebook routinely deletes profiles on their system and doesn't verify with the users or explain why they deleted it. What happens when they delete a person's profile AND any important emails that was stored in there? Lawsuits probably. Obviously it would be a bad idea to use Facebook email for anything important.

#5. Facebook's help department is ridiculously lax about answering complaints or helping with problems. Its worse than phoning and talking to a machine. First you have to navigate a labyrinth of FAQ and help section stuff before you get a contact form, and even then when you contact them... you NEVER get a reply.

Oh and here is the worst part... if you are already familiar with Facebook you know they are relentless. You get email messages for almost everything that happens on there. You have to really edit those settings down so you can limit who, what and how people can actually bug you with their lame invites to groups, causes, events, and all the other crap. With email added... it will just get worse.

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