We're sure you haven't been standing on the sidelines waiting for this announcement, but it will inevitably impact the way you and your friends use social networking. Since a million bajillion users have already signed on to Facebook for their daily dose of social addiction, it makes sense that they'd want to start using the site for their email correspondences, too. Let's take a look at Facebook message features and see how (and if!) they'll change the way we chat with our friends and family.
Now, all the methods of contacting your Facebook friends have been lumped together. When you message your friends, you can decide whether or not you should have a friendly chat, email or message them. So many options, so very little free time at work to decide.
Chat and messages will be weaved together into one big thread. When you open a conversation with a friend, you'll also be able to see the past chats you've had with her. If you send a friend who is offline a chat message, it'll be logged in your Message for you to refer to later.
You'll also finally be able to have large group chats in real time, so if one friend is away but your other friend is available through chat, the friend who is idle will receive the conversation you had with the other friend about Friday night's plans. When you're finished, you can forward the conversations to the rest of your brood, and the weekend will have been saved!
The tiered mailbox system will allow you to focus on only the most recent and important conversations of the moment. Messages with subject lines like "I need all of your phone numbers" and "HOT DANCE PARTY AT DA CLUB" will remain at the bottom, while the more important threads will stay floating. You'll also be able to block people, though we're not yet sure if you'll be able to do so for people you haven't added on Facebook.
In addition, there will also be the option to do selective delivery, which means you'll only receive messages that follow under your own privacy settings. So, if you're okay with corresponding with "Friends of Friends", then they'll be able to invite you to their awesome keggers--or whatever it is you kids do on the Facebooks these days.
Your Facebook email address will correspond with the profile username you chose way back when. The service should prove easier to use for those who rely on the site as their main form of communication, and it'll work with traditional email systems--that is to say, you'll be able to use Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail in conjunction. But of course, any message you send from your Facebook email address will look and feel like the standard Facebook layout.
Perhaps the biggest kicker about Facebook email is the fact that subject lines have been--wait for it--removed entirely. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, now instead of seeing "Hey" and "What's Up?" and "Dude" as subject lines, you'll just see the beginning of the conversation. Facebook claims in its FAQ that this will make sending and receiving message an easier feat, but frankly, we're just afraid our emails will end up with an identiy crisis.
If someone does send you a message with a subject line from an ever-so-antiqued email system, it'll appear in bold font. And if the whole idea of subject-less emails really grinds your gears, you can always turn off Facebook email from the privacy settings.
Look, the last thing I want to be reminded about is that awful conversation I had a week ago, and it's really inconvenient that Facebook didn't even include the option to delete individual messages from a long thread. But, I can see how this is going to be helpful for friends who don't speak too often, or who have very detail oriented conversations that involve phone numbers, addresses and the like. Just, uh, reserve the drama for text messaging.
The "Other" subfolder will ensure that messages from mailing lists and distribution groups won't infiltrate your inbox. Whether this will be as powerful as Gmail's spam filter is another question entirely, but at least you can still opt out of receiving annoying messages from various Facebook apps and people you don't know.
The new Facebook Messages isn't yet available, so you'll have to request an invitation from Facebook.
Follow this article's author, Florence Ion, on Twitter.