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Facebook Chat – Talking the talk

Alex Christie

24 April 2008

World’s biggest social networking site continues to evolve.

Facebook have been listening to their users recently – and
maybe that’s why they’re so keen to keep us all talking. After removal of the expressively
limiting ‘is’ from status updates a while back (which bizarrely, and even after
all this time still leaves everyone talking in the third person), and my
favourite – the ‘ignore all’ feature to the seemingly endless onslaught of
ever-more bizarre applications, Facebook have done the inevitable and added an
instant messenger feature.

At the moment, I’m still trying to work out whether it’s brilliant,
or whether it’s a bit lightweight.

On the one hand, it helps keep everything in one place –
which could spell doom for existing developers such as AIM. There’s perhaps not
such a need to mess around with a separate software download and adding all
those fiddly email addresses to it. It will also dramatically increase
dwell-time on Facebook, as people get hooked into conversations with an instant
response. Given this, could chat be another method for the social networking
giant to ramp up the challenging monetisation of their product?

From a user perspective – it also has its pros  and cons. Several of the conversations I’ve had so far have ended in a crash
(although I suspect one of these occurrences was down to the person on the
other end falling asleep – you know who you are…). I also find that with lots
of other programs active, you have no idea if you are signed in, or if anyone
is actively trying to talk to you – so I believe I have inadvertently ignored
rather a lot of attempts to initiate conversation already. I didn’t know you
were there – honest!

The plus side is that it might cut down the whole rigmarole
of the wall to wall – which seems to take ages despite both users being online.
As well as this, the wall seemingly broadcasts to the whole world – so now no
one far and wide will know what I’m having for dinner at a friend’s house on a
Tuesday night – a great loss to all, I’m sure.

Facebook appear to have talked the talk by adding a brave
new innovation to their platform in the instant messenger tool – but can they
keep listening to what their users are saying, continue to evolve, and make their latest addition stick?

What’s your opinion on the new Facebook chat feature?

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