Facebook Messages: My 10 first impressions

Facebook Messages: My 10 first impressions

Summary: After nearly a full day of using Facebook Messages, the conclusion is that I need to invest more time with Messages - and Facebook might need to invest more time with it, too.

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Not 24 hours ago, I was feeling pretty bullish about Facebook Messages, the company's just-announced attempt to rethink the way people communicate over the Internet - including e-mail.

Being one of the first to have my Facebook account enabled for the new service, I spent a good part of yesterday messing around with it - asking friends to "email" me at my new facebook.com address and, more specifically, to email me from a variety of accounts, including those not registered on Facebook.

Here are some of my first impressions, with some analysis posted below.

  1. Bravo to Facebook for making everything opt-in, including the @facebook.com email.
  2. Thanks also for making all of the elements of the registration very easy to turn off and on.
  3. A message appeared in my inbox while I had my chat feature turned off. I turned on my chat feature and saw that the message was actually a chat thread. I wasn't sure exactly where to respond - in the messages window or the pop-up chat window.
  4. I still don't quite understand how the whole integration with SMS works. I received text messages when someone commented on a status update - not just that the person had commented but the text of the comment itself. A comment on a status update doesn't count as a "message" and shouldn't be arriving in  my SMS inbox. Hmmm. Suddenly, I wondered how bogged down my SMS inbox on my phone would become down the road. Later, an actual email showed up via SMS while a chat that first appeared as a message never did. Confused? Me too.
  5. Duplication sucks - and that's exactly what I have on my phone and on my page. Who needs or wants the same message twice?
  6. The conversation archive is inconsistent about how much of the archived conversation it shows. Consider the example in the image. My buddy Mike was responding to a message I'd sent him at some point in time - but all I could see in the message archive was one of his responses. Without the context, how would I know what we were talking about?
  7. The messages system recognized the email addresses of people who sent test emails to my new @facebook.com account. If their e-mail addresses are linked to their Facebook accounts, then the email pops into the Messages folder. If their email addresses are not linked to their Facebook accounts - a work account, perhaps - then it shows up in the Others folder.
  8. Did I miss the button to forward the email? It's hidden under the Actions dropdown and then makes you select each message - not threads - to forward. I'm still not sure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.
  9. I have this overwhelming urge to go in and clean out my messages. I had no idea I'd had that many message exchanges on Facebook. And I had no idea that I had unread messages dating back to August 2009.
  10. No, they have not yet activated my invitations so, no, I cannot send you one. Sorry.

Overall, I think I need more time to use Facebook Messages before I reach any conclusion. I can say this much: at this point, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was exactly right when he said that this is not a GMail killer. For now, it's confusing and that's intensified by the integration of SMS.

At one point during Monday's press event, Zuckerberg said that the company wasn't trying to add to traditional email but instead was trying to trim it down, to take away features. It doesn't feel like Facebook Messages has been helpful at reducing clutter. So far, it's done just the opposite.

Still, I'm willing to give it some time, recognizing that 1) there's still a learning curve and 2) some parts could change once Zuckerberg and team start reading through some of the feedback.

Hope this one helps.

Also:

Topic: Social Enterprise

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11 comments
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  • RE: Facebook Messages: My 10 first impressions

    How does the privacy setting look like?
    alvinlumlai
  • Alpha or Beta

    Sam - After reading your first-pass review of Facebook's attempt to wrangle all types of messages into a single corral sounds like the "service" is beta maybe alpha and that not enough attention was paid to refining its quality. Rather like a lot of tech companies it rushed the product out the door and expects consumers to struggle through using it, provide feedback, so it can refine. With deep pockets and high caliber of talent the company touts, people should expect - no demand - near perfect products. At the very least some sort of coordination so messages aren't in multiple places and no confusion is created when using the product. Reject beta-like products by declining to use them. Back to the lab Facebook. Mary Fallon
    MAC Fallon
    • RE: Facebook Messages: My 10 first impressions

      @MAC Fallon : I agree. Seems like the classical engineering vs marketing feud. Engineering says they need till Thanksgiving to make it presentable and marketing says the hell with it, I need it yesterday. Then they take from engineering whatever they have in whatever state and best case they assume that their eloquent delivery style will carry the day. Worst case (actually in any case) engineering is to blame. Looks like engineering is going to take a lot of stick on this one. Do they deserve it? Dunno. But two things are certain. ONE, this is certainly not the end. And TWO, Facebook seems more eager to take out Google than vice versa. A certain Sun Microsystems tried that once, and a certain Mr Schmidt should know better.
      Lord_of_the_Singhs
  • RE: Facebook Messages: My 10 first impressions

    with all the security problems on facebook last year, and all the problems you reported here, I agree with Lord_of_the_singhs--; I still ask myself if Fb is a tool or just a site for entertainment? can it be used as an enterprisse tool? By now i dont think so...mr Zuckerberg--my two cents: if you want quality.. keep the focus solve all the problem instead adding a lot more!!!
    luis.herrera1974@...
  • RE: Facebook Messages: My 10 first impressions

    I'm not hopeful. Facebook Chat is among the worst things I've ever had the misfortune of laying my eyes on. Are they going to get converged messaging right? Best of luck.
    Non-techie Talk
  • facebook

    privacy settings help to make it so you dont receive messages from random people. But if you accept the requests by games to access your info. it's just like accepting to have junk sent to you in email and in the mail. Chat is a lot better then myspace with people talking about random. Facebook is more oriented towards talking to a group of people and if setup correctly you can have a group session that no one can see. It's similar to setting your privacy settings in xbox live. as far a duplication I have never had that happen on my computer but on my phone sometimes.
    Just remember theirs a refresh button to update your facebook on the mobile phone. :)
    jeffman_z
  • RE: Facebook Messages: My 10 first impressions

    I see this thing being pushed back to 2011 even the simplest thing they got wrong-> not having your conversation history on facebook after sending it to sms.
    m3kw9
  • RE: Facebook Messages: My 10 first impressions

    I absolutely agree with everything you just said about functionality in facebook. I am actually disabling the link between my facebook and my cell phone for the reason of being cluttered with messages every time some activity happens there. It's very annoying. Unless somebody is very needy or has nothing else to do all day they would love that "attention". Is that the purpose of Mr. Mark Zuckerberg? With all the respect to the CEO of facebook I think that was the purpose of facebook in the beginning (at least that was what was shown in the movie "The Social Network") That nerd guy looking for girls attention and suddenly became millionaire! Great! good for him, but the distance of an adolescent's crazy idea to became an useful tool the distance is abyssal.
    Are we giving too much credit for these kid's ideas? I think so.
    Luiz
    jlmuzzio
  • RE: Facebook Messages: My 10 first impressions

    "an actual email showed up via SMS while a chat that first appeared as a message never did."

    Surely this is missing the point? Isn't the idea that there is no SMS/Chat/Email, there's just messages, and you get them whichever way is quickest? You didn't get the Chat as an SMS because you were signed in to the website so there was no point. And you didn't get it as a Chat message because you were signed out.

    See what I mean?
    ravcasleygera
  • RE: Facebook Messages: My 10 first impressions

    Um, leaving that comment seems to have auto-subscribed me to two ZDNet newsletters. Not cool.
    ravcasleygera
  • RE: Facebook Messages: My 10 first impressions

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