Facebook’s “secret” announcement on Monday, which has been all but confirmed to be an overhaul of their messaging system to make it work more like email, could be the start of something much bigger than just an upgraded to a site function for users. Some speculate that Facebook could rival Google’s gmail in becoming a top-choice free email platform. I do see a number of advantages, and most exciting to me is the prospect that everything is in one place. I’m a fan of tools that help me multi-task.
But is Facebook really a good option for email? I can see way too many potential problems to be optimistic about this yet:
- Facebook doesn’t seem to be dedicated to user privacy. I worry that I’ll forget to uncheck a box that shouldn’t have been checked and the default option will be to share my information or the information of the people I’m emailing. I send sensitive information via email in some cases, so this is extremely important to me.
- Bloggers may see the professional benefits of Facebook, but to many, it’s still just a site to talk with friends. How will a Facebook.com email address look to a potential client or employer? I’m not sure I would take that address as seriously as I’d take a Gmail email address.
- I keep my Facebook profile extremely private. I know that many bloggers use Facebook as a marketing tool, but I use it just to connect with friends I know in real life (though I do have a page for my blog too!). My concern is that if I email clients from a Facebook address, they’ll be able to see some of my profile information. At the very least, they’ll know I use Facebook and will look me up, perhaps even request to be my friend. That puts me in the awkward situation of having to either accept their request and change how I use Facebook or deny them and potentially offend people.
Of course, until Facebook actually rolls out their email platform, we can’t really know if this is a good option or not. I would like to see a rival to Gmail, and I do think that the team at Facebook has some cool ideas in general, so it will be interesting to see how they tackle email. I just hope that they listen to their fans and address concerns in a better way then they’ve done in the past.