Facebook announces email and social inbox

Facebook announces emailThere’s been a lot of speculation regarding Facebook’s “secretive email” platform.  Internally this has been dubbed the “Gmail killer”.   At the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco today, Facebook held a press conference to clarifiy this rumor.

“It’s true people are able to have an @facebook.com email addresses” announced Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.  However, he later added “This is not an email killer.”  The new developments at Facebook included three items:

  • Social inbox – filtering techniques to show the messages that you want to see
  • Single conversation history – which includes a complete historical thread of user conversations
  • Seamless integration – a means of aggregating a variety of communication including email, text, IM, etc.

According to Facebook engineer, Andrew Bosworth (or Boz) “The system is definitely not email.”  It is not intended to act like email or replace your email accounts.  He summarized that this is Facebook’s way of using individual social graphs to filter and improve communication.  By having categories of friends, it’s possible to be notified by those people that are closest or most important.

This announcement seemed to be met with confusion and doubt.  Do we really need to keep a complete communication log with friends?  Don’t we have enough data coming at us each day as it is?  Most emails are deleted for a reason – they’ve already been read or answered.  If it needs to be stored, it’s got a specific title and date to reference.  I’m not sure people want to comb through a thread to find the snippet of useful data.  It’ll be interesting to test these features out to see how effective they are.

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