Why Facebook Messages Will Not Be My Primary Email

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 16, 2010
Updated • Jan 9, 2015

I bet you have read a lot about Facebook Messages, Facebook's new communication hub, in the past 24 hours. Like most users I'm still waiting for my invite to try out the new service. But even without having tried it yet I can make the statement that Facebook Messages will not replace my primary email address and provider.

Why? Because it is limited to Facebook. When I want to check for new emails I have to visit Facebook to log in to see if I have any. Sure, third party developers may create plugins, add-ons or applications that tap in to Facebook Messages to notify the user of new messages, but that does not replace good old Pop3 or IMAP.

I prefer using an email client, in my case Mozilla Thunderbird, to access all my email accounts. With Facebook Messages I would have to visit Facebook to check emails sent to the @facebook.com account and another program or service for my other email addresses.

Facebook Messages in its current form is not the email or messaging service to rule them all. It is a clever way of combining chat and SMS messaging on Facebook with email on Facebook. If you use Facebook for lots of messaging you will probably like the idea of adding email to the mix.

But there is another problem associated with the new messaging service: There is only one thread per contact email address which means that every email sent and received by the same contact will be lumped together in one big thread.

Different subjects for instance are ignored by Facebook Messages, and chat and SMS messages are added to the conversation as well which could make it really hard to look up conversations from some time back. It is also not clear how group emails are working, emails that are sent to multiple users. Since you cannot sort by subject you may need to flip between users to access the whole conversation.

Facebook may have plans to add IMAP and POP3 at a later time, which would increase the value of the service, at least for users who like / or have to work with email clients. This would also get rid of the one thread per contact issue, and the problem that there does not seem to be an option to export messages out of Facebook.

A major problem with Facebook messages is that emails are using the syntax username@facebook.com which is often the real name of the user. This could open the doors for personalized spam messages.

There is another problem associated with it, that is affecting users who work at places that have blocked Facebook. If Facebook is blocked you cannot access your email and messages in the network.

What's your take on Facebook Messages?


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  1. namewithheld said on December 2, 2010 at 4:32 am

    Anything you put on Facebook remains on their servers forever. Hitting your ‘delete’ key doesn’t mean what you assume it does – it just makes it invisible to you. Any other facebook user who has received that message can still see it. This goes for messages, photos, video, anything at all. And even if you track down every single user who has received that message or photo and get them to agree to delete it, it’s still on Facebook’s servers. Facebook will never remove anything from their servers because they consider all of it valuable marketing data.

    Additionally, Facebook does disable user accounts, without giving a reason for it. You may have inadvertently broken one of their rules, but after hunting for the correct department to contact and ask why this has happened, they won’t tell you which rule you may have broken. Even when you look up the rules, you will find many of them to be nebulous and vague, almost as if they had been written to cover nearly anything. So if you’re using Facebook mail and depending on it, using it to store contacts, storing the messages for later reference, you could be in for a nasty surprise.

  2. Karl H. said on November 18, 2010 at 1:41 am

    Facebook knows more about so many people than KGB, Mosad, CIA and Homeland Security together.

  3. Rossi said on November 16, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    I just don’t understand why Facebook is so popular. I am not on it because I don’t like the idea of trusting the use of my Personal Information with someone like Zuckerberg. I don’t have a problem with Social Networking, the future will have a Network like Facebook but with much better Privacy and Security. How do I feel about FB Messages? I don’t believe they will be able to offer full access to all mediums (email, mobile..) without sacrificing Privacy yet again. I am happy with Gmail’s Spam filter, no spam gets to my inbox and I can’t see FB being able to stop SPAM due to the way FB works.

  4. BobbyPhoenix said on November 16, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    Won’t use it for a reason you stated. Office blocks FB. I check my email many times during the day, so it’s a no go for me.

  5. aftermath said on November 16, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    I am unable to use Facebook as my primary email account because I do not have a Facebook account. I do not need a Facebook account. I do not want a Facebook account. I should not have a Facebook account. Even after I fail the compulsory IQ test and am forcibly registered for a punitive Facebook account, it will go unused.

  6. Dougle said on November 16, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    I imagine teenagers and those that know no better will be attracted to said service. Personally, barge poles and miles spring to mind, but I also wouldn’t use FB if my life depended on it.

  7. Shevonne said on November 16, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Facebook would have to do a huge revamp to their current messaging system to get anyone (but possibly teenagers) to use it. It can’t happen in a day or two. I agree with all your points and the first commentator’s Facebook’s reputation with privacy.

  8. Jack said on November 16, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    I don’t use sad services like FB. Even if I did I wouldn’t trust them with my real name and address, let alone my emails.

  9. giedrius said on November 16, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    I would not use FB as my primary email. However, it has benefits, as it is large enough community.
    Though… your argument that it is bad that FB email would not be reached at work is non-valid. Actually, it depends from office policies if you are allowed to use mobile phones, messaging or personal mailing at work.

  10. Yoav said on November 16, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    No thank you…

  11. cOMPLETELY fRANK said on November 16, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    The negative aspects of,”Facebook” outweight the positive aspects of having yet another “free” email. While Facebook continues to position itself as “the only Portal you need for the internet” it continues to treat “your” information as Facebooks Property… Surprise, surprise, surprise… it is their Property, Facebook, through the Facebook terms of Usage, all information, films pictures, etc. become the exclusive Property of Facebook. Sick if you realize that a picture taken in public of you (possibly without your knowledge or consent) if posted in Facebook becomes Facebook property, should this be the subject of misusse.. you have the Burden of Proof not Facebook-… Facebook doesn’t own you (yet) but it is on the best way of coining the Phrase, “Digital Slavery”

  12. Roebie said on November 16, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    You’re forgetting one important argument against using FB Messages: the not-so-good reputation of FB concerning privacy.

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