Facebook Mail Supposedly a “Gmail Killer” – But Is It a Privacy Killer?

Facebook Places. Facebook Deals. Now, Facebook Mail.

Sounds a lot like a bunch of copycats to me. Facebook Places was just a copycat of Foursquare, which is a social application that allows you to “check in” to places, with several optional levels of privacy, to reap the benefits of socializing with businesses on a repetitive basis. Facebook wants to do the same thing, while integrating every single piece of your identity, into Facebook Deals. (That’s not scary at all.)

Now, Facebook wants to manage your email. On Monday, Facebook will announce this new feature – and has officially acquired the fb.com domain to allow every user their own Facebook email address. I don’t know about most of you, but I have about 0 pieces of snail mail per month that are important. Every single piece of personal, relevant, important communication occurs via email – Gmail specifically. That means every bank statement, every angry customer service letter (the ones I don’t tweet) every group thread between friends about happy hours (which includes times, dates, and places about where I will or won’t be) phone numbers, addresses, sometimes passwords, sometimes love letters that I shouldn’t send at 2 a.m. – these are all exchanged via Gmail.

The last thing I want is a company known for breaching their customers’ privacy rights on a consistent basis managing my most private of communications.

So, no, Facebook, I will not be using your @fb.com email address. I don’t care how trendy it is, how easy it may be to import my current email settings, how much more “social” it will make my life. My bank statement is not meant to be “social.” I enjoy keeping my private communications, well, private.

Will you use Facebook Mail? Or do Facebook’s continual privacy concerns outweigh any benefit it may provide?

Article Written by

Kelly Clay, author of Blog Without Boundaries, is a freelance writer and lifestyle advisor.

  • Donald Johnson

    You think that current email is private? I’m going to guess you don’t use message encryption for any of it, like PGP. If you do, I applaud you. Otherwise, ‘private’ communication, bank statements, etc. are easily visible once the email is sent to an unencrypted relay, and prying eyes can get them.

    Gmail to Gmail might be secure, but it’s not guaranteed anywhere. Gmail to anything else is guaranteed not to be secure.

  • http://Dashstation.com David

    I’m sure it’ll be a product I enjoy trying. But FB will definitely further their frame work for a online communication monopoly.

  • http://selfhost.mag-uk.org/ Andrew Meredith CEng CITP

    I’m sorry but you really do need to read up on Google’s business model and the privacy statement on gmail. Google make their money in the same way as FB and do much the same thing with your data. They’re just better at reputation management. The only truly private way of working is to host your own domain/email/website and use “opportunistic encryption” and the likes of GPG. Even if you can’t use crypto, at least having your data on your machine at your property will ensure it won’t be data mined from your end. If your correspondent is using gmail/yahoo/fb/hotmail/myspace etc etc though, it’ll be poked at their end instead.

  • Dave Martin

    This is frightening on many levels. There is nothing secure about mail (unless you use encryption as has already been pointed out) and to think that people will be gullible enough to let FB get anywhere close to it says a lot about the new “connected” society we live in.

  • Mike

    I will probably make sure my fb.com address is set up and has a password different than my FB account (if possible) and then will likely ignore it. The last thing I need is yet another email address.

  • Another David

    I may use it for the all-important email account to direct all my spam to. I can’t resist the irony.

  • Dianne

    I don’t use Google or Facebook products because of their poor privacy standards. What this is about is gathering information to sell to marketers. It is not to make your life easier…it is to tap into your information and that of your friends and make money for Facebook. When we give ourselves away to Google and Facebook, and they make money off of us, we have only ourselves to blame. Yes, other companies do the same thing, but certainly Facebook and Google are more aggressive than most. No Google (there are other search engines out there and I refuse to use my sentences as a billboard for that company), no Twitter, no Facebook, no cloud storage for me. I’m fine without being on an electronic leash all day long. This whole business of being connected all the time with everyone just seems a big time waster to me. Obviously I’m not the target audience.

  • Anonymous

    I would have been interested, but I don’t think I can afford it. What I said last year, I know.

    I’m tempted to check out second hand iPad 1 prices…

  • Anonymous

    Yes, the Apple Digital AV Adapter will work on older devices, but it won’t do 1080p and mirror what’s on the screen like the iPad 2. It will only do 720p. Also, it will only work on slideshows and movies, which is the same as the current AV output for the older devices. From the Apple website:

    “Use the Apple Digital AV Adapter to mirror whatever’s on your iPad 2 screen — apps, presentations, websites, and more — on your HDTV or HDMI-compatible display in up to 1080p HD (movies play at up to 720p).

    Watch slideshows and movies on the big screen in up to 720p by connecting your iPad, iPhone 4, or iPod touch (4th generation) to an HDTV or HDMI-compatible display.”

    • Anonymous

      I was afraid what you stated is true. It would have been nice to mirror iPhone 4 and get hulu and angry bird like games on big screen

    • Anonymous

      Dam you apple! I want to mirror iPhone 4

  • http://twitter.com/DarkSideGeek Bill Houle

    If the iPad2 had no camera(s), then I’d agree with your “spend time transferring the footage” iMovie comment. However, I believe their intent is that you *take* the footage from the iPad, and then edit it right there. Ditto for stills in Photo Booth.

    I agree with your assessment in general. If I needed FaceTime (or iMovie), I’d be lining up to upgrade. As it stands, I don’t _need_ it, but am nonetheless fighting a strong urge.

    BTW, I think one upsell is exposing PC users to Mac mainstays like Garage Band and iMovie, and lure more to the Apple desktop/laptop platform – the halo effect, but now via the software rather than the hardware.

  • http://odayyousif.wordpress.com Oday Yousif

    I’m not trying to hat and I don’t know if your an anti Apple person or not but it just seems to me anyone who hates Apple and/or the iPad will always finding something bad to say about their products.

    • http://www.myunv.com/ Sunny Singh

      And what’s wrong with that? Apple is not perfect, and their products aren’t either. Angelo is simply voicing their opinion, and that perhaps the iPad 2 is not as great a leap between itself and the original iPad. Any good company (and its users) will want great feedback and criticism like this to improve. You want a better iPad, don’t you?

      I’m also not trying to hate, but many Apple fans tend to say something bad about any product not made by Apple.

  • http://cmsexpo.net/ CMS Expo

    Fair enougn, Chris. I think you’ve got a point for the folks thinking of upgrading. The real sales will come from folks who were waiting for 2nd gen before buying their first tablet. Me? I’m keeping my iPad AND getting an iPad2. Gonna hinge ’em together into an iPadwich.

  • Anonymous

    The hdmi dongle only mirrors ipad2 and it only plays audio and video on select apps on all other devices.

  • Drift

    Personally I just got my iPad and this came out? Not thoroughly impressed… I’ll wait for the 3rd gen iPad. Not worth the upgrade.