Facebook Messages Takes Communication Outside

Aiming to further blur the lines between social networking and modern mass communication, Facebook on Monday rolled out a new messaging system that integrates e-mail with texts, chats, Facebook applications, and other communications.

The move will likely complicate efforts of messaging providers like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL to boost their user rolls, but Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said his goal isn’t to turn e-mail into the new snail mail.

‘Not a Killer’

“This is not an e-mail killer,” Zuckerberg said at the media event in the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco. “It’s a messaging system that has e-mail as one part of it. I don’t expect people to wake up tomorrow and say, ‘I’m going to shut down my Yahoo or Gmail account.'” He did note, however, that Facebook consulted with high-school students, who found e-mail too slow and complicated.

The event was carried live on All Facebook, a site devoted to news about the six-year-old, 500-million-user social network.

Asked by a reporter if the goal was to direct more people to Facebook for daily communication, Zuckerberg’s top engineer, Andrew Bosworth said “the goal is to make it easier to connect with people you care about, and if you can do it on Facebook, fine,” but connecting elsewhere is also fine.

Outside the Box

Facebook Messages, which began rolling out Monday and will eventually reach all user accounts, takes the network’s internal communications system, commonly referred to by users as “inboxing,” outside the network. Users get an address with the domain @facebook.com that allows sending messages from inside their account to either members or non-Facebook users.

“This looks more like a messaging aggregator than anything,” said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. “Zuckerberg’s careful description — saying that it isn’t an e-mail killer — was a smart thing to do, as I’d say that Facebook…

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