Facebook: The Message is the Medium

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I'm also naturally suspicious. Why does Facebook want all my conversations? What are they planning to do with them? Will they be displaying ads keyed to the content of my emails/chats/texts, as Gmail does? Or will this information be feeding into some kind of behavioral profile? (Cue Mr. Paranoid.)

My other big hesitation is that, for this to work, it appears I'd have to change my habits substantially. I'd have to drop all my other forms of communication and standardize on my @facebook account, and so would everyone who communicates with me. (Unless I am totally misunderstanding how this works.) In general, products that rely on people radically changing their natural behavior tend to fail, unless the benefits from that change are overwhelming and obvious. I don't see that here.

Then there's that bit about email - sorry, message -- prioritization. Here again it seems like Facebook is making the broad and most likely inaccurate assumption that the people in your friends list are actually your friends, as that word has traditionally been defined. As I've written elsewhere ("Facebook + Bing: The good, the bad, & the incontinent"), my Facebook posse is a dog's breakfast - real friends and family members mixed in amongst casual acquaintances, professional colleagues, a mess of social media/PR types, fans of my writing, likely stalkers, and a smattering of bikini models (just because). So prioritizing mail from this crew is only marginally better than the random spew that fills my inbox every day already. I can't believe I'm alone in this.

Do I sound underwhelmed by Messages? I do. And the security alarums that people like Sophos's Graham Cluely are sounding don't make me any more sanguine about it. Per Graham:

The new features do increase the attack surface of the Facebook platform, and make the accounts of users all the more alluring for cybercriminals to break into....Facebook accounts will now be linked with many more people in your social circle - opening up new opportunities for identity fraudsters to launch attacks. Furthermore, because Facebook will be storing a complete archive of all of your communications with one person - there will be concerns as to how such data could be misused if it fell into the wrong hands....Facebook users mustn't fool themselves into believing that they are safe as long as they only trust the messages sent to them by their Facebook friends, as those accounts can still be compromised by malicious hackers.

Still, I'm willing to give it a shot - assuming I ever get the chance to.

ITworld TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan would love an invitation to Facebook Messages if you've got one to spare. Visit his snarky humor site eSarcasm (Geek Humor Gone Wild) or follow him on Twitter: @tynan_on_tech .

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