Facebook Messages: Need to know

Facebook Messages could be a game changer, but what is it and will it really kill off traditional clients like Gmail et al?

Various parties have praised Messages for using its Other' box to filter out any spam, but some have questioned whether this will prove effective.

Graham Cluley, Sophos senior technology consultant, also made the point that Facebook did not explain how they will deal with spam and malware sent from accounts belonging to your Facebook friends something which has become increasingly troublesome for users recently.

The simple truth is, it is highly unlikely your Messages account will block out all threats.

Saying that, the fact that Messages is really just for conversations means you should get much less spam than you do when using other email services.

So is my email data more secure using Messages?

Not really. Expect Facebook to be under some serious scrutiny with how it handles your data, especially given the social networking behemoth will be storing a complete archive of all of your conversations. Users may also be angered at the inability to delete individual messages, only entire conversations.

This kind of conversational data is something hackers will be going after, particularly if more carefree users decide to share banking details across the platform. Facebook will need to be more secure than ever before with the introduction of Messages.

Furthermore, by offering more services, Facebook has essentially opened itself up to more avenues for attack. For instance, users can now attach files that could contain spam messages or even be infected with malware, as Cluley pointed out.

The message is just to stay vigilant and if you do find any bugs, report them to Facebook as soon as you can.

Is Messages really the Gmail killer everyone has been talking about?

According to Facebook, "Messages is not email," regardless of the @facebook option. However, this does not necessarily mean the new service will not challenge the traditional email model.

Firstly, analyst companies have been talking about the transition from using email to social networks for some time, and that includes within businesses. Given the apparent simplicity of use with a less cluttered system, and the fact that Messages is essentially a form of unified communications, the service has clear benefits over other options like Gmail.

However, this service is solely for conversations, not for transactions or advertising, which makes up a significant portion of email. Internet banking, for example, will still rely heavily on standard email. It will not use Messages, that's for sure.

Furthermore, there are no subject lines or what Facebook calls "other formalities" that come with traditional email. Some users will surely want to have these little notifiers, not just because it is what they have grown accustomed to, but because they can provide the useful nuggets of information needed to determine whether an email is worth reading or not.

So, other email clients like Google's will survive, even if usage levels will likely drop due to the quality in Facebook Messages' convergence qualities and ease of use. The email market will be disrupted, but it will not be shattered.

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