Going for broke! Facebook launches unified email, IM & SMS service

by Ore Fakorede

With over 500 million users, Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook is by far the world’s most populated social media network. And because these users access their Facebook accounts for different purposes through a diverse range of devices, it has long been the aim of the California Web 2.0 company to merge e-mail, instant messaging, ad hoc Facebook messaging and SMS so that individuals and groups can communicate seamlessly in real-time across multiple devices using several messaging formats.

Showcased by Mr. Zuckerberg himself in November 2010, Facebook’s ‘next generation messaging system’ allows users to have an @facebook.com e-mail address and to view all conversation history in one place regardless of the messaging platform employed. Known as the ‘Gmail killer’ for good reason, this service puts Facebook in direct competition with Google and Yahoo, the world’s leading e-mail providers.

The service is now fully operational and users can activate their personal @facebook.com addresses (in the format [email protected]), connect their mobile phone numbers (Airtel and MTN numbers only in Nigeria) to their Facebook accounts for multi-platform text messaging and send instant messages from their inbox. You can get started by logging into your account and opening the ‘Messages’ folder. Setting up the service is a breeze and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. To activate the Facebook Mobile service, you‘ll need to send a text message to a three-digit number (regular inter-network charges apply). A confirmation code will be sent to your phone in an SMS reply. As expected, privacy options are top-notch and since Facebook will not give out the phone numbers of users, there’s no threat of spam SMS advertising.

It will be interesting to see how Google and Yahoo respond to this highly exciting development.

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