Facebook CEO: 'Messages' = way of the future

Palo Alto social-networking company unveils system aimed at simplifying how people communicate

Predicting people will call it "the way the future should work," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the social-networking company's latest initiative, a revamp of the website's "Messages" communication system, Monday in San Francisco.

"It's not e-mail," Zuckerberg said, dispelling rumors that Facebook would launch a new e-mail system to compete with such communications staples as Gmail. "We don't think that a modern messaging system is going to be email."

"People are going to have addresses, but it's not e-mail," he said.

Instead, the system is going to send messages at once over the whole range of technologies people use to communicate -- phone, e-mail, instant messaging and, of course, Facebook.

Andrew Bosworth, director of engineering for the Palo Alto company, said communicating via technology is too fragmented, illustrating the point by saying he needs to text message his high-school-aged cousin but e-mail his grandmother.

"I'm keeping this lookup table in my head of who I need to reach out to and in what medium. ... It seems like it should be simpler than that. It seems like technology should get out of the way. It should be as easy as sending a person a message. I should need only those two things: a person and a message," he said.

Currently, Facebook offers a messaging system by which users communicate with each other either in an e-mail-like format or an instant-messaging format. In addition, users can have their Facebook messages forwarded to their outside e-mail accounts.

About 350 million people send about 4 billion messages a day on Facebook, and that volume is growing, Zuckerberg said.

The new "Messages" program is based on three functions: the integration of technology (phone, e-mail, instant messaging, etc.); the ability to retain a conversation history; and the sorting of messages within a "social inbox."

Unlike e-mail, in which there is a subject line and all replies to that e-mail are joined together in a "thread," the Facebook Messages system will have just one thread per person.

"You have a conversation with a person -- one conversation, one history," Zuckerberg said.

The "social inbox" will segregate messages sent to a user based on the social importance of the sender, with communications separated into three categories: "messages," "other" and "junk."

"Because we know who your friends are ... we can do some really good filtering for you to make sure that you only see messages that you really care about," Zuckerberg said.

Facebook Messages, he predicted, will become the way of the future because it aligns with how the next generation of communicators like to have conversations. High school students, for example, prefer the immediacy of communicating via text message on their phones, where thoughts can be spelled out quickly and in bursts, rather than using more formal e-mail.

"This is not an e-mail killer," Zuckerberg said, predicting that e-mail will continue to be one way people communicate. But just as teens are shifting to "real-time, simpler communication, that's what we think is going to happen."

"More people will engage in this because it's simpler and easier and it helps people connect better and it's more accessible and more fun and valuable for them to use.

"Maybe one day -- six months, a year, a year and a half, two years out -- some people will say, 'This is the way the future should work,'" Zuckerberg said.

Facebook Messages will work with Jabber/XMPP (Windows Live Messenger and AOL Instant Messenger) but IMAP functionality is still in the development phase, Bosworth said.

Rollout of the system will take several months and will be tested first by people who've been invited to participate, Zuckerberg said.

Development of Facebook Messages took more than a year and involved the largest team Facebook's ever assembled for a product -- 15 engineers, Bosworth said.

View video of the announcement, along with a media Q&A session, at

— Palo Alto Weekly staff

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Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Meadow Park
on Nov 15, 2010 at 5:43 pm

My yahoo email is just fine. Problem I find with FB is that they send you junk to your FB, base on what you look at or join.

Like this comment
Posted by Tim
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 15, 2010 at 5:46 pm

I can't trust facebook ... they are organized hackers and now they want to hack our smartphone's text messages and mails also to know what's important to us and will sell it in market ... they sucks big time and I really feel that there is no need of such integration as I already use multiple emails for different groups I communicate with ... different for family and friends, office and even if I need to search a room .. I will create a new email and forget about it once done ... clean .. right...still let's see what they come up with.

Like this comment
Posted by security breaches
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 15, 2010 at 5:49 pm

Facebook has so many security breaches that I am not going to trust them with my e-mail.

And I'm not even talking about their intentional privacy violations.

Like this comment
Posted by robit noops
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 15, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Wont use it. I HATE text messages and instant messaging. I dont believe in Facebooks privacy settings, and since your facebook profile is scrutinized by employers, is it going to become possible for employers to search your messaging history too? I have a few old frineds that I chat with on FB, and I post pictures of cats and junk, but for the most part I want to remove all my facebook history permanently. Any fun social events I have attended, or political views expressed, or heated comment arguments of the past should not be available to be hacked or scrutinized.

Like this comment
Posted by style
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 15, 2010 at 6:12 pm

"Development of Facebook Messages took more than a year and involved the largest team Facebook's ever assembled for a product -- 15 engineers, Bosworth said. "

Wow, 15 engineers for a whole year! It must be good.

Like this comment
Posted by Dan
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2010 at 7:57 pm

why should i trust a company like facebook with my personal emails? they already have a bad track record with user privacy. using facebook email would be like shouting your social security number in the middle of a shopping mall

Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 16, 2010 at 4:37 am

Facebook has created a multitude of problems for young children who do not understand the ramifications of what they write.

These young students (mostly girls) should be writing in a diary and not on Facebook.

Due to problems several years ago, our child is no longer allowed to use any social network.

Many will regret what they wrote through 5th grade on.

In addition it takes time away from school, and has been used in bullying.

Facebook is banned in our home.

The sad thing is that our child tells me that several of her teachers at Jordan spend their time on Facebook while the kids watch a movie or are required to do some "busy work" assignment.

I know this is true, because I have witnessed it (as a parent volunteer) and have other students who have told me certain teachers play on Facebook.

Even with parental controls and "friends only" kids will abuse it, and they do not understand the possible long term effects of what they post.

Facebook People Reading This - Please consider putting an age limit of 16 for use of Facebook. The Friends Only does not work.

Teachers reading this - Stop using Facebook during school time. If you feel that you need to use a social network, do it at home.

Complainers - I have taken the course offered by Facebook offered to parents.

Like this comment
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 16, 2010 at 9:52 am

Oh so they will control ALL your online activities? No thank you.

Like this comment
Posted by something else
a resident of Meadow Park
on Nov 16, 2010 at 11:15 am

I can see the need for something new and more integrated, but hopefully it won't be Facebook. I think the posts above reflect the views that most people have of Facebook now. The honeymoon is over - trust is gone. Someone else will take the opportunity to jump in.

Like this comment
Posted by south PA Mom
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 16, 2010 at 11:21 am

Our family is about to get off Facebook. They have earned my mistrust.

Like this comment
Posted by Facebook not an option
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 16, 2010 at 11:23 am

I echo the sentiments of Parent, with a child at Jordan... the teachers involved should be absolutely ashamed of their behavior, and given they have a continuous litany of demands for parents as to what should be worn, how much time spent on homework, etc., they better realize that little eyes look to THEM too, to show them what adults REALLY view as important.

The alternative for the kids seeing you as an actual role model is seeing you as a complete hypocrite.

Watch what you do, you ARE being watched even when you think you aren't.

Like this comment
Posted by I dont know
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2010 at 11:38 am

I find facebook a good place to find people time has lost and a place to share things that I dont care if the general public knows about me.

However, I wont put my email there. Why? Because like the rest of you I dont trust facebook with my privacy. I dont trust facebook not to share my email content.

Like this comment
Posted by sounds like a start
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 16, 2010 at 12:55 pm

"However, I wont put my email there."
I wouldn't use it for email either. But that isn't a problem since it's not email. It's a record of all your messages with each of your friends. You're not going to be using it to maintain your relationship with your bank.
Facebook is supposed to be addressing the problem of not all friends being equal. Rockmelt (the new "social" browser) allows you to select friends you're most active friends.
"I can see the need for something new and more integrated, but hopefully it won't be Facebook."
Who else? Facebook is the only one with a list of all your friends. Without that information, you just have a list of contacts.

Like this comment
Posted by I dont know
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2010 at 1:55 pm

"But that isn't a problem since it's not email"

part of FB's proposal is to add email, you will be offerred an email address after they roll it out. They apparently are looking to knock off Google's gmail. I dont think they can, because of how fast and loose FB plays with their user's privacies. Also facebook is pretty buggy and the UI is not that great, its ok, but they have actually changed a number of things that have made usage harder, not easier. For a social network, who cares, for my email, I care. So yes, they can have my messages where I catch up with my old high school buddy. They cant have my receipts from Amazon.

Like this comment
Posted by William
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 16, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Don't trust facebook w/ your email. They have lied about privacy issues and the same will happen w/ their email.
After it happens...what another full page ad saying were sorry we lied, everything is better now?!
Funny, after I stop using facebook, less junk email.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2010 at 5:26 pm

I think he is right, that it will be the future of communication, but I don't necessarily think Facebook will be doing it. Fb will be the pioneer for some other system which we will all use and Fb may be taken over by it, but not for the next few years, but in ten years, who knows?

In the meantime, I would use it for keeping in touch with family and friends, for catching up on our own social news and events and finding long lost friends. But, with the privacy concerns we have, there is no reason to use it for anything that we don't want generally known. I agree with the poster who said that Fb can have the catchup with old high school friends and family gossip, but don't let them see your Amazon business or even your vacation plans of when your house will be empty. Use it the way we savvy people use Fb, but don't extend it beyond that.

Like this comment
Posted by Sammy
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 18, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Privacy settings mean nothing as Facebook routinely sells the privilege of accessing "private" accounts.

Like this comment
Posted by bru
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 24, 2010 at 8:41 am

bru is a registered user.

I am getting sick and tired of Facebook ... it is really getting old. First, it's a great idea to have your name and face out so people can find you, and you can find people ... that's it. Why all the other draconian measure, they stupid games, the constant updates. FB has no confidence in itself or understanding of what it really provides. Everyone one of these Internet portals all tries to be everything and do everything, and FB is really annoying because it is everywhere you go on the web, it's like something looking over your shoulder. I will eventually exit FB if this intrusiveness continues.

Consumers want a world wide web that does their bidding, not one that is constantly irritating them.

Like this comment
Posted by Face this
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 24, 2010 at 9:35 am

Just heard that Facebook is trademarking the word "Face". I wonder what Steve Jobs and his Facetime group think about that?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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