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Facebook rumor of the week: A Web-mail app?

By Rob Pegoraro

Once again, tech reporters are engaged in a sort of Kremlinology: Guessing what Facebook might mean with its latest vaguely worded invitation to a media event. The latest such solicitation, seen below, arrived yesterday: Come hear Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg talk about ... something at 10 a.m. Pacific Monday in San Francisco.

facebook_mail_invite.jpg

Early this morning, TechCrunch offered its own interpretation. The AOL-owned site's Jason Kincaid reported that Facebook will be introducing an e-mail service, code-named "Project Titan" for now, but also nicknamed in-house as Facebook's "Gmail killer."

Facebook is building a full-fledged webmail client, and while it may only be in early stages come its launch Monday, there's a huge amount of potential here.

Kincaid cited unnamed company sources -- and noted the obvious symbolism of the airmail-stripe graphics on the Facebook invitation -- as evidence. Kincaid also suggested that recent sniping between Google and Facebook over exporting and important contacts lists makes sense in the context of an upcoming Facebook e-mail launch.

TechCrunch has gotten a decent number of Facebook scoops, but some can only be charitably described as premature. Its prediction of a Facebook phone yielded to the reality of interesting location-based features being added to its existing smartphone site and apps.

(Disclaimer: If you haven't memorized the usual disclaimer about The Post's connections to Facebook, Post Co. Chairman Donald E. Graham still sits on Facebook's board of directors.)

If that pattern repeats itself, we could be looking at functional upgrades to Facebook's existing messaging feature -- which TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington denounced as "becoming completely unusable as a personal or business productivity tool" in 2008 and hasn't seen many advances since.

But assume for a moment that TechCrunch's story is right -- setting aside the reality that most tech products hyped as a "[name of incumbent product] killer" wind up as roadkill themselves -- and ask if you want to hand over your e-mail to Facebook. I know some of you are comfortable using Facebook messages to stay in touch, but do you also want to shift your communication with the shrinking majority of non-Facebook Internet users to Facebook's services?

By Rob Pegoraro  | November 12, 2010; 10:55 AM ET
Categories:  E-mail, Social media  
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Comments

How long will it be before Facebook allows "trusted advertisers" to poke through what you thought was your private email?

Posted by: edeckel | November 12, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

This may be the proverbial straw that prompts me to delete my facebook account. I loathe it but keep it to find friends. Burt while I have decided I trust google to have a copy of every email sent from or to me, I have also decided that I do NOT trust facebook in the same manner. And while I can choose not to use a facebook webmail client, I can't keep people from emailing me from it, and therefore giving facebook entry into my conversations by linking the email to my fb account.

Posted by: ethanlj | November 12, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I cannot coax FB friends to move extended conversations with me to personal email,a more secure and reliable way to message. So if FB continues to offer messaging, an upgrade would be welcome.

Posted by: philkdc | November 12, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

You mean disclosure, not disclaimer.

Posted by: jpk1 | November 12, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

If privacy settings and other options for a Facebook-branded Web mail offering is anything like their social-networking site settings... Spammers would have a field day harvesting Facebook accounts. And of course there would be no such thing as junk mail in a Facebook account.

One of my still-unresolved pet peeves is that as a normal rule I can’t see anything on my FB News Feed older than about 24 hours. There is even a Facebook GROUP about this problem from similarly-disgruntled members. I can just see their e-mail client: “There are no more e-mails to show right now.”

Anyone who would use Facebook as their only Web mail platform is certifiable.

Posted by: 54Stratocaster | November 12, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

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