Here’s Why Facebook Mail Might Fail

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

I’m sure you’ve all read about Facebook adding email to their social platform.  If you didn’t know that you can read Gizmodo’s report here and there are lots of others out there.  It’s being mentioned as a Gmail killer and as a threat to Yahoo mail (the world’s biggest provider).  It incorporates email, SMS, Facebook messaging and chat.  Given that Facebook has half a BILLION people using its platform, it’s not hard to think that way.

But I don’t.  And here’s why.

What’s more private than your personal communications?  Not much.  On the personal side it can be embarrassing.  If it’s a business communication read by the wrong person it can be devastating economically as well.  I mention this because while Facebook does a lot of things really well, they continue to screw up security and privacy.  Obviously adding email increases the likelihood that there will be data leakage as well as new opportunities for hackers to use social engineering to break into your account.

It also means Facebook will be storing the totality of your communications.  Given that not a month goes by without yet another story of an issue here, do you really want to trust that they’ll get it right this time?  Not me.

More importantly, their attitude about it is pretty lacking.  Take this from a recent article on Facebook letting outsiders see personally identifiable information:

While Facebook said that transferring users’ names obtained via referrer headers to outside companies violated its terms of service, the company also said that doing so wasn’t a privacy breach because referrer headers leak only “publicly available information.”

Facebook considers users’ names to be publicly available, but marketers and policymakers often consider people’s names “personally identifiable information

Kind of splitting hairs, boys and girls.  If you wouldn’t want YOUR information getting out in this way it’s up to you to stop it from happening to the rest of us.

Unless and until Facebook gets security and privacy up to the highest standards, I think it’s a matter of time until there’s a big issue, probably one that will make a lot of people think twice about using their email system.

I know you’re on Facebook – are you going to be using their mail?

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