A few days ago, I went to my Facebook messages section and I found an alert that said “Would you like to activate your own Facebook email address?” At first I was quite excited. I had always thought that the best way that Facebook could compete better with Google was if they brought out email, and made their app good enough to allow users to switch over from GMail. Facebook email, however, is currently a failure in many respects.
Why Haven’t Facebook Done Email Before?
I’d heard Mark Zuckerberg before say that they weren’t bothering with email, because when he spoke to younger users, they told him that they found regular email’s lack of fluidity too slow. That’s why they preferred to stay with the idea of conversations instead. Because of this, I feel like their sudden change has something to do with the fact that Google has just launched Google+, their own social network modelled quite drastically on Facebook.
Why I wouldn’t Change from GMail to Facebook Email:
- Since email is going to function through Facebook messages just like usual, with no separate app, there is little added value to Facebook itself. Since most of my friends are on Facebook all the time already, there is little reason why I would ever send a message to their Facebook from my email. It’s just unlikely, so why give out my Facebook email anyway?
- The email address is unchangeably my Facebook username. You don’t know what that is? It’s the stupid name that you gave for your Facebook profile link. Facebook.com/users/your.funny.username. People didn’t pick these to be their email addresses, they picked them in many cases because they were funny, and some people actually thought that they could use it for SEO, giving relevance to the links they put in their info (did none of y’all think about that?).
- The email addresses aren’t even short. I would have liked it if it was something like firstname.lastname@example.org, but instead they used the entire 8-character domain name. Maybe they thought that people would like the social value it brings, or perhaps they thought it would improve their branding. All I know is that it wasn’t a smart move.
By the way, if you’re a developer, you might want to read this article about getting data from Facebook with PHP.