Privacy questions trail Facebook Messages

Beset with privacy problems in the past, the focus is on Facebook's new messaging system

By , Computerworld |  Software, Facebook messages, privacy

After Facebook's struggle with one privacy issue after another this year, some in the industry are raising privacy questions about Facebook's new messaging system .

On Monday, the social network unveiled Facebook Messages, a system designed to handle the convergence of different kinds of messages - e-mail, instant messaging, SMS and Facebook messages -- and bring them together under one social umbrella. Users will be able to have their own facebook.com e-mail address, but the system also will work with other e-mail systems, including Google's Gmail and Yahoo mail.

As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained the new system at a press conference in San Francisco on Monday, never touched on how the company plans on keeping users' messages private and secure.

That raised some eyebrows and a bit of ire online Monday.

And industry analysts are wondering how Facebook is going to step up and take on this issue.

"The more Facebook puts itself in a position to receive, store and safeguard the most private communications we have, the more Facebook will need to be vigilant to protect privacy and guard against hacking and data theft," said Augie Ray, an analyst with market research firm Forrester. "When Facebook was primarily about open communications, such as status updates, this threat wasn't as great. But now that Facebook is increasingly facilitating private communications through features like Groups, Places and Messaging, it requires Facebook do more to protect that data."

And if Facebook fails to keep users' messages private, the backlash against the network could be damaging, according to Ray.

"Failure to do so can result in substantial loss of trust with Facebook and could cause consumers to abandon all or parts of Facebook," he added.

Privacy issues surrounding Facebook Messages are likely to receive extra scrutiny because Facebook has had to react to criticism of its privacy policies recently.


Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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