Facebook has launched a messaging service.
While it will include an "@facebook.com" email address, founder Mark Zuckerberg said the new release wasn't only a webmail system, but a "modern messaging system" that brings together text messaging, chat and Facebook messages.
"This is not an email killer. This is a messaging system that includes email in it," he said, saying he didn't expect users to ditch their email accounts - despite reports the social-networking site had internally branded the system a "Gmail killer".
Indeed, Zuckerberg said it was based on instant messaging rather than the more "formal" email. If you're online and logged into Facebook, messages will immediately show up in chat, while if you're mobile, messages will head to your phone.
What Facebook is looking to kill is spam. The system will use friend lists as a white list to filter out unwanted messages. "Because we know who your friends are... we can do some really good filtering for you so you only get the messages you want," Zuckerberg said.
The messaging system will have three main folders. The first will include messages from Facebook friends, the second less personal messages such as newsletters or bills, while the third will essentially act as a junk mail folder.
Users will be able to add people to Facebook messaging even if they aren't signed up to the site, and demote Facebook friends to a lower ranked folder if they don't really want to see their messages.
A Facebook email account will not be needed to use the system. It will roll out over the next few months, on an invite-only basis to start with.