Facebook messaging is a lot like email and an online forumÂ rolled into one interface. Â You can send your friends a message and they will all see it and each others replies to it – but what happens when you get added to a message you don’t want to be a part of?
I recently was part of a message thread with family when one of our family members used foulÂ language in his reply – which went to everyone in the thread. Â Some of the more conservative members of the family were offended and hit the reply all button to say so… As you can imagine – the messages started flying back and forth about not being so easily offended and not being so offensive. Â Most of us just wanted to ‘opt out’ of the thread (even the person that started it).
Hitting the delete button removes it from your inbox – but a few minutes later and there is a new reply to the thread and its like you never clicked delete. Â You may think this is an issue that Facebook should solve (and you may be right) but its not as simple as you might think. Â Sending a message in facebook isn’t ‘like’ email – it is email. Â You can’t connect to your mail box with Outlook or Apple Mail – but its a simple mailbox just the same.
What does that mean, you might ask? Â Lets walk through it as an email – when you send an email to a bunch of people – they all get a copy in their inbox. Â You know that if you then delete your copy – their copy doesn’t get deleted, just your copy. Â If they hit reply to all – everyones name in theÂ original message will get their reply – including you. Â You can’t ‘opt-out’ from your friends and family sending you email (and you likely don’t want to).
Now – back to a Facebook message – the same technical processes happen as when you send an email – only the user interface (Facebook’s website) shows your inbox to you in a manner that looks like an online forum. Â We call them ‘threads’ when in reality, its an email chain. Â The one big difference from Facebook and your email inbox – with your email program (gmail, outlook, hotmail, etc) you have the ability to remove people from an email before you hit send.
In Facebook – you can reply to a single person or to all – nothing in between. Â Which is the one thing facebook could fix easily – but then it becomes difficult to know if someones name was removed from a message and are no longer getting replies to all (this is the same with email). Â For example – you send an email to 10 people. When anyone hits reply to all, all 10 people get the email. Â But your friend Bob doesn’t like your friend Bill – so Bob removes Bill from his reply to all. Â Now only 9 people get Bob’s reply. Â When any of those nine people hit reply to all – Bill won’t get a copy because he isn’t in Bob’s message. Â Without looking at who is in the “to” field every time you send a message – you wouldn’t know when this occurred. Â I suspect this may be why facebook’s approach is to make their version of email more “user friendly”. Â In myÂ experience, “user friendly” equals less functionality. Â Removing options makes it simple to use – but with less options!
I think I may have lost most of you by now – but I hope this has helped…