Why the New Facebook Mail Will Be Dead On Arrival (For Many of Us)

facebook mail blocked

TechCrunch is reporting that Facebook will be unveiling a full-fledged webmail client tomorrow, to take on the likes of Gmail.  Before you dismiss it as yet another unsubstantiated TechCrunch rumor, the New York Times also reported similar facts.  If the story turns out to be true, Facebook could have a formidable email service, given the size of Facebook’s user base.  Technology publications seem to be overlooking an Achilles’ heel that could make Facebook mail a no-go for many users.

What is that Achilles’ heel?  Rightly or wrongly, Facebook is blocked by many corporations in mainstream America.  Would you use an email service that you couldn’t access if you really needed to, except for on your smartphone?  Yes, if the service has a POP3 or IMAP component, you could use another email client, but then what’s the point?  That makes it no different than any other email service that you could port to an external service.

CNN, in an article by Mashable founder Pete Cashmore, is the only site that I’ve seen mention this problem.  Understandably, the tech press sometimes is out of touch with the average user.  While Facebook and Twitter may be an essential part of business to those in the tech sector, and even to many other businesses, much of America hasn’t caught on to that yet.  Whether those businesses should be more social media savvy is another debate, but the fact remains that many users wouldn’t be able to benefit from Facebook mail for much of their day.

To be fair, we don’t know exactly what Facebook will announce tomorrow.  Perhaps Facebook will announce a service so revolutionary or compelling that mainstream corporate America will allow Facebook onto its networks.  How likely is that?  If it happens, do you have any interest in a Facebook email service?

Evan Kline

Hello, I'm Evan. I write about tech from my perspective – that of the average 40-something tech geek. You can also find me on Twitter and at my real-life job as a lawyer.    MORE ABOUT ME.

14 Comments:

  1. Presumabely many, if not most, companies that block facebook also block personal email accounts, no?

    • I can’t speak for everywhere, but I know of some places that block social networks, but not email. That may just be a function of it being easier to block a whole domain, than it is a selective part of a domain. I doubt any company is going to block all of google.com, for example, just to block gmail.

  2. Funny – my wife and I were talking about this just last night. She is a heavy Facebook user and would love to use a @facebook.com email, but her work blocks Facebook while she can get to gmail just fine.

    Nice to see someone actually talking about real world issues and not just “wow here is a gmail killer”

    • I also wonder what sort of image a Facebook email address will conjure up. For example, I think the general perception is that gmail users are tech savvy, while AOL mail users are not. Facebook Gmail users are . . . social? Less serious? We’ll have to see.

  3. I would like to have the facebook.com email address but don’t see myself really giving it out to people over my gmail address. If I do use it, I would probably have it go through my gmail account anyway.

    I see it being a huge success on a personal level but very few businesses adopting it, just as very few businesses adopt Gmail over Exchange.

    Anthony

  4. My company blocks ALL external mail (as well as Facebook and such). it’s a very big company, though, so the resources exist to selectively filter things (for example, Gmail is blocked, but Google isn’t).

    Personally, I’ve always thought of web-based email as a nice convenience, but not a real show stopper. I use a fat client that accesses POP and SMTP servers – and every POP server is pretty much like any other – brand is not that important. Now, if my company doidn’t block web mail, I might sing a different tune.

    • I used to get all my mail via POP or IMAP, but I haven’t fired up a desktop in ages. I’d probably do what you do, if webmail were blocked at my company. A desktop app can be a good neighbor to a web app, if set up right, but it isn’t a perfect substitute.

  5. Well, it looks like they are trying to integrate with everything from your regular email to SMS and chat — so your regular systems will still work, and Facebook will pull it into one social inbox. Sounds a bit like a Facebook version of Threadsy — I wonder if they’ll add a Twitter client too.

    All Your Messaging Are Belong To Facebook! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!!!!!

  6. I wonder if they will scan mailboxes ala Google and do targeted ads. I mean why else would they provide this service other than to learn the habits of users and attempt to sell goods/services?

    No thanks, I hate FB and the way it has changed how people use/abuse the internet. Ill be keeping my mail with Google (who for some reason I trust)

    • I certainly don’t trust Facebook enough to use them as my primary email provider, or even to receive any sort of sensitive data. Having heard the announcement now, I could see myself adding FB mail into my Gmail account settings as just another account that Gmail pulls mail down from, once FB adds POP or IMAP. That actually might get me to visit FB even less.

  7. I think this would be a very attractive feature to many people since most of their time is spent on FB. I am not in favor of it, as I don’t like FB as it is a TIME SUCKER and have actually unfriended so many friends recently-to reclaim my time- that I now only have about 30 friends. I don’t use FB as a means of communication with the REAL people in my life. I prefer face to face, phone, snail mail and email (in that order). I try not to have communications with people I don’t genuinely care about enough to visit them on their birthday. It’s sad how FB has changed the way people communicate.

    Sorry this isn’t as technical as the rest of your posts, but I think the world is way too plugged in and REAL relationships are not being nurtured as they should because they are taking a back seat to the net.

    • No need to apologize, Lara. I do like FB for keeping tabs on friends, but I’ve been pretty good about not letting it be a time suck (I usually just scan it on my phone), and I also don’t let it replace in-person contact. I primarily use it for keeping tabs on old friends who I otherwise wouldn’t talk to (college fraternity brothers, law school friends, etc.), but who I’m very happy to hear from and see what they’re up to.

  8. I was using it initially for much of the same type of communications. I’ve found that having children make me look differently at who I have and maintain contact. I don’t see purpose in being “friends” with old high school friends or even in listing my cousins, for example, as friends- we rarely speak on the phone… Why would I need to have them as contacts on Facebook? I’ve gone back and forth and keep whittling down to the point where I wonder- “why do I even keep that account?”

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