How to use Messages on Facebook
Facebook recently introduced Messages, a unified messaging system that attempts to channel all private communications, including e-mail, text messages and chat, through a single user interface.
By providing a free messaging system alongside the more public wall posts and news items, Facebook is hoping that its more than 500 million members will spend even more time on the site, and less time with Google (Gmail), MSN (Hotmail), and the other more traditional e-mail services.
However, in its haste to implement Messages, the social network has once again added to the angst of the long-suffering Facebook faithful. Instead of completely replacing the old messaging system, the new tool is more of an add-on, introducing several new features...and a fresh layer of confusion.
If you want to initiate a private message, the options are much the same as they have always been: you can go to someone’s Facebook page and click on Message in the top right-hand corner; or you can mouse over a friend’s name in your News Feed and click on Send Message. Once the message box opens, you can add additional recipients or just send the message to the one individual.
Keep in mind that you can message anyone with a Facebook account and not just your own friends. The only exception is if that person has blocked you.
However, once you have initiated the private message stream, things are now a little different. If you click on Messages on the left-hand side of your home page, you will see a list of all the individuals that you have involved in any kind of message dialogue. This Messages page also includes a search feature and a message filter, which can be used to just show Sent messages, for example.
If you click on a name on your Messages page, you will see the entire message stream for that individual. Strangely, Facebook lists the latest messages last, which is the opposite of how Facebook treats wall posts and how most people are used to reading e-mail.
Once you click on an individual name, you also have the opportunity to continue the message stream in the Write a reply box, but only with that one individual. With this “quick messaging” tool, there is no way to bring anyone else into the conversation.
There are some nice features included in Messages. If you have created a private Facebook e-mail address, then all your e-mail will be included in the message stream, along with Facebook-based chat and texts. Facebook automatically filters your Messages page, so you see the dialogue with friends first and then others after that. You can also add attachments, including links, photos and videos.
Other aspects of Messages will take a little getting used to. There are no subject lines, so a message stream is like one big rambling conversation, without the opportunity to give any context to the dialogue. Plus, there is no overall date filter, with users always having to search by individual rather than the date of a message sent or received.
As we suggested before, Messages may not sit well with Facebook diehards, where even the slightest change is met with howls of anguish. But overall, it should be seen as a creditable effort to introduce more privacy into Facebook conversations, which can only be a good thing!
Have you tried Facebook Messages? Share your thoughts with The Online Mom!
Comment by Clare Clerici, posted 9/30/2012, 7:02 AM:
Since last Thursday 27th September 2012, I have not been able to easily write messages. Only one line space is provided instead of a paragraph and this single line continues so that it is not possible to see what is written. It is necessary to use the return key after every few words but the end message looks odd. How can this be corrected?