Is Facebook Replacing E-mail?

July 11th, 2007 | Categories: networks, social media, trends

Facebook new logoMany of my friends and colleagues are now using the internal Facebook messaging system more than e-mail. It has almost become an e-mail substitute. Having said that, they still check their e-mail as it is essential to daily life on the Internet. Nonetheless, messaging between Facebook members is usually accomplished within the social network rather than e-mail.

Why is this?

My guess is that people consider the Facebook system and layout much easier and intuitive than e-mail. Once a dialogue is initiated, participants can quickly and easily track the evolution of the discussion via a simple threaded interface. Time and date are displayed in a prominent manner. Even the wording is intuitive, maximizing the user experience and minimizing frustrations.

The inbox is ingenious as well. Instead of cluttering the space with individuals messages, the threaded system allows for a discussion to be grouped into one message. Little icons beside the messages indicate different conversation statuses. A blue dot indicates a new message, while an arrow indicates that you have replied. I won’t even begin to touch on all the small AJAX features that ensure a satisfying experience.

The recent launch of Facebook Mobile has also been a huge factor. Facebook members who sign up for Mobile can now receive wall post, messages, and pokes as text messages. In essence, this is like receiving e-mail to your phone for free (assuming you are registered under a plan with unlimited text messages). This can’t quite be classified as a Blackberry substitute. However, it cannot be ignored either, as cost plays a huge role for many.

The viral growth of Facebook and exploding user base further encourage such behaviour as more and more friends, family members, and colleagues join the network. It is my prediction that the success of the Facebook messaging system will only grow from here. It may only be a matter of time before the system becomes a full-blown, web-based e-mail and you can e-mail me at _____ @


  1. Andrew Says:

    People do this with MySpace too and it drives me nuts. The last thing I want to do is keep track of… work email… gmail… now social networking e-mail too? Forget it. Not to mention that when I get a message on one of these things I’m also alerted via gmail, but unable to respond via gmail.

    Usually, when someone messages me on one of these sites (and the the convo lasts for more than a few exchanges) I ask the person to just e-mail me.

  2. Aidan Says:


    That’s fair and I can see your pains. I think integration between social networks and e-mail clients is the next step.


  3. Mark Evans Says:

    Maybe I’m in the majority but I can’t see Facebook replacing e-mail. Whenever I get a message via Facebook, it just makes me wonder why the person by-passed the “normal” vehicle (e-mail).


  4. Aidan Says:

    Mark –

    Good point. However, I would wager that anyone that uses Facebook more than e-mail would just use the former as their main communication tool.


  5. Tom Says:

    The teens and college kids would probably love it, but I can’t see it catching on in the business community. Can you image getting an email from, doesn’t seem very professional. Funny though 🙂

    Email is also very trendy just like social networking sites. Remember when everyone had an AOL email account, than that became “un cool” and everyone moved to hotmail, than yahoo, and now gmail. Could facebook be the next “cool” email ? Who knows?

  6. Michael Vu Says:

    What if Facebook allows users to check other emails within their system. Hmmmmmmmmmm. =) Then they’ll be barking up Google’s tree – gotta love it.

  7. phalacee Says:

    The reason why people prefer messaging each other through social network sites to email is a simple one, and I am shocked that no-one has caught on to it yet – only your ‘friends’ can send you messages so you dont have to deal with spam …

  8. jennifer jones Says:

    I don’t think facebook is replacing email. I like email that comes into my inbox and can be tracked on my treo. Facebook is one more step to me and email is more simple.

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  13. leah Says:

    There’s a funny cartoon about Facebook Messaging at ITGumbo. I don’t know what it has to do with Harry Potter, but maybe you’ll figure it out.

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  16. Adrian Says:

    Interesting post, Aidan. Some similar thoughts occurred to me as well when the swell of Facebook was well underway. The one thing that really struck me at the time was how I suddenly had a rash of emails coming in my inbox, where at one point I actually had more messages from friends being delivered by Facebook than through “regular” email channels. Even though things have since subsided, I still potential for private messaging through services such as Facebook having a potential impact on the overall usage of email (at least between friends).

  17. Aidan Says:

    Adrian –

    Those are just notifications. You can change your settings and choose not to receive them. That’s what I did and I’m sure lots of others have done too. I was getting annoyed with them as well, but you have the flexibility to turn them off.


  18. Roger Lewin Says:

    I had a recent face book account,, after creating some groups a message popped up saying I was approching a block. Im english, I thought this ment I would be prevented from creating any more groups once a maximum had been reached, This message appeared twice more and I had one final group to create, ( I had created about 9 in total, named toshiba, sony,ipod, etc) As I run a computer company.

    Than suddenly I was logged out, when I tried to relog in a message appeared saying my account had been blocked by an administrator.

    To cut a long story short, whan i contacted facebook, they said I had been warmed, and my account had been deleted and there was no way to get it back.
    I recontected them and asked what the maximum amount of groups you could create was and their reply was there is no set maximum amount. if thats true why the drakonian measures in delting my site and my newly found school friends who founf me, who I cannot now contact.

    I also created a group which was deleted, instead if facebook saying you are in breach of or rules, so unless you remove the rule breaking content we will suspend your site they just delete everything.

    I have recreated my account and my group, but not hosted any pictures on my group.

    After changing the nick names of people I had bought in the OWNED game for my website address ( ) which points to my face book group page some days later I attempted to log in one day to find my site access restricted with a message saying I might doing something that is against facebooks rules, this lasted for a couple of hours and then I was allowed back in.

    I am about to recontact facebook to ask what exactly was I supposed to have been doing that was against theire rules, I had emailed about only 6 people over a week and they are all friends or in my group.

    The moral of this story is to all thoes people who use facebook for thir emails and contacts is that if facebook don’t like something you’ve done even if its an accident, they will delete all your account, that included all emails inbox, out box and you will be stuck, so either back up your contacts.
    Or use your normal email to be safe.

    Roger Lewin
    The friendly computer shop

  19. musa abo-alnaser Says:


  20. elio Says:

    add my email

  21. Ernest Raynor Says:

    I tried to sign up for Facebook, but it kept telling me email/password was invalid. I tried to follow the directions to obtain a new password, just couldn’t get it.
    Thank you kindly.

  22. kreativelady Says:

    i am so tired of typing in all my old contracts i placed in years ago. where are they residing. i have been on the computer since the 80’s and never had to recopy them in my account. what happened to the old METHOD.?

  23. Jordan Says:

    I’d love it if someone could build a two-way facebook-email gateway. I want to get facebook messages forwarded to my email and be able to reply, etc.

  24. terrell knight Says:

    terrell knight says.
    january 19th,2009 at12.45am

  25. Mashable « Blog Collection Says:

    […] hasn’t killed email, something that has been has been a recurring meme since 2007 (see here, here, here and here, for example), people are spending more and more time on the […]

  26. Anonymous Says:

    i need mail in facebook

  27. nikos xxxx Says:


  28. larry oj Says:

    what a sweet relief!…….. a better alternative



  30. kaustav chakravorty Says:

    I was tring to look 4 a frnd ,i was shown a messsege that I am misusing the facebook ,may I know the reason,the part misused.

    awating 4 ur reply


  31. jishnu Says:

    hello iam jishnu how are you

  32. jishnu Says:

    my uncle says that iam not using face book so that iam using now
    and iam asking that can i be ur all friend and am now happy to announce that iam afrend of urs can i be

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  34. Coby Lopez Says:

    Thank you ever so for you blog post.Really thank you! Really Cool.

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