We Don't Want People to Have to Think About This Stuff

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2010-11-15 Print this article Print

The Messages application resembles the familiar Facebook format, with active content in the center, ads to the right and tools to the left. When someone sends a message to the FB.com inbox, it will be able to be picked up by any device a user designates.

"We've tried to make it so people don't have to think about this stuff," Zuckerberg said. "We think that by looking at the way people send messages, we can determine where to send the messages to -- and, equally as important -- where not to, so you don't have the same message in five different channels.

"That's a lot of the value that's being created by this product. You'll just have to play around with it to let us know if we got it right."

Messages will allow users to delete -- or archive -- any message or conversation thread they want at any time.

Asked about user security -- a sensitive topic for a long time at Facebook -- and whether Facebook will retain user e-mail information (such as e-mail addresses) and content information as it branches out to embrace other services, Zuckerberg said that Facebook "wasn't targeting anything [such as ads] based on the content" of the messages.

"In general, our ad system is based on stuff the user puts in," Zuckerberg said. "That's a huge difference between our ad system and most other ad systems -- which target you based on tracking you around the Web.

"We're based on things like, you put in you like Green Day, and we tell you when Green Day is coming and give you an ad for concert tickets. This is different from what we're talking about today."

About how he sees Facebook Messages competing with other high-volume services, such as Google's Gmail, Zuckerberg said: "I think Gmail's a really good product ... e-mail is still really important to a lot of people, and we think that this simpler kind of messaging is going to be how a lot of people will shift their communication. We'll see how that happens over time, but if we build a good product that people will want to use, then they will use it."

Gmail users welcome

"This product works fine with Gmail users," Bosworth said. "If you want to send a message on Gmail to Messages, cool. We allow people to connect however they want to connect."

Is Facebook planning to add a voice or video feature to the new app?

"Maybe over time, but we just thought it was a lot easier to unify the four channels that we're talking about today ... because they all have something basic in common, in that they're all primarily text," Zuckerberg said. "In the future, maybe something like voice ... we'll have to think about it and see what users ask for. But this is a pretty big step by itself."

To a question about how much online storage will be allocated to each user in this new messaging scheme, Bosworth didn't offer any specifics.

"We're not going to give a specific number [of gigabytes for individual user storage]," Bosworth said. "I think this is the way modern messaging systems are going: Even Hotmail with SkyDrive does this kind of thing, where if you are a good user, and you are using this thing without abusing it, you should have no cause for concern.

"For people who are trying to find the limits, they are likely abusing the systems, and they will find the limits."

Editor's note: This story has been updated to add more details about the new application.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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