News that Facebook is integrating email into its messenger service seems to be have been met with general approval. Whilst there are a few criticisms, these have been levelled at the current level of functionality rather than the notion of Facebook incorporating email. Personally I do not want to have all the internet services I use to be in the one place: it encourages vast power in the hands of a decreasing number of major players; it potentially stifles innovation; and it causes lock-in.
Power of access to information in a few hands should not be considered a good thing, especially when they are commercial organisations whose primary motive is profit: ‘Do no evil” very quickly becomes “Be seen to do no evil”.
When we are locked into one of the major web organisation we can find ourselves ‘forced’ to sign up to ever increasing numbers of their services, primarily for the sake of ease, but potentially due to necessity. I have found this increasingly noticeable with Google, although I am sure that the other major search engines are equally culpable. A few months ago I wanted to add a profile picture to my other blog, but whilst Google’s blogger allowed pictures to be uploaded to the blog entries, profile pictures had to be hosted somewhere else….unsurprisingly it offered to host them using Google’s photo subsidiary Picasa if you downloaded the software.
Facebook is very quickly becoming one of the major internet powers, and as it is integrating more than any organisation before we may soon find ourselves locked into the most powerful organisation ever. As people migrate from the World Wide Web to Facebook we find ourselves walking blindly from an open net that people have fought to keep free of government interference to a closed service in the hands of a rather odd 23 year old.
Personally I will continue using Facebook, but only as a social networking site.