Facebook Announces Email Service

Stuart Freen is a JD candidate at Osgoode Hall Law School

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Monday that the site’s instant messaging system will soon be getting a major overhaul. The revamped system aims to integrate email, instant messaging and text messaging, and will offer users @facebook.com email addresses. Analysts suggest the move will put Facebook in direct competition with existing webmail providers including Google, Yahoo and Microsoft.

Zuckerberg touted the new service as being tailored towards social media-savvy young people who find traditional email “antiquated”. Washington Post columnist Rob Pegoraro notes that the service lacks many advanced email features and won’t be a viable replacement for heavy email users.

Competition between internet giants Facebook and Google is heating up. Rumours were swirling all week that Facebook would introduce a “Gmail killer”, referring to Google’s hugely popular webmail client. Google recently blocked Facebook from importing contacts from Gmail, arguing that Facebook was not reciprocating. Google also denied rumours last week that it was developing a new social networking service to compete with Facebook.

  1. Even if Facebook does start an email service, I doubt it would be successful. It might be like a trend, like hotmail. Plus Facebook already have a private message system set up, I don’t see the point of making it into an email server as well.

  2. Kelley, I disagree. Facebook email, IMO, does not attempt to replace private messages. It tries to replace email. By that measure, I predict it will be a success.

    The younger generation doesn’t take email seriously, but they’re forced to use it because it’s used exclusively by other entities (ex. University emails, or emails from people who don’t use facebook)

    Facebook’s email service, in my opinion, is of little value to people who want an email account. But for people who have an email account because they have to, facebook offers to function as a gateway.

  3. This announcement is interesting for other reasons in light of recent news that facebook is censoring content with links to lamebook.com.

    Background: Facebook and lamebook.com have been in negotiations over trademark issues, and lamebook.com filed for a declaratory statement that they are not infringing on facebook’s trademark. Facebook responded by suing for trademark infringement, and prohibiting links to lamebook.com in any content that travels through facebook.

    But restricting content based on facebook’s quarrels or as a deterrent to suing is exertion of power that threatens to undermine email as a content-neutral medium. Can you imagine if gmail censored links to companies that sue them?

    I would never trust facebook with my emails. But as I argued in my previous comment, I’m not the target audience.

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