Typically, I leave breaking news about social networks to my peers. Nick O’Neill is world renowned for covering this space (Update – Nick found out about this 3 weeks ago), so I hope he doesn’t mind. I went into my Facebook account tonight and saw that the IM functionality was already in place. I asked 10 of my friends if they could view the IM feature on their screens and they said no. I am one of the first beta testers of this instant messaging feature. We are all used to AOL Instant Messenger or Yahoo’s Messenger, but Facebook already had our attention. Would you use this new feature or are you going to stick to your guns? Facebook uses this integrated approach to make you spend more time on their website, thus they can claim better statistics and get more advertising money or funding.

Quick analysis

First, I edited my screen 3 times, with 3 different screen shots that I blended together.

On your left, you will see a list of all your buddies that are currently online and you can IM any of them you choose. You can also conduct a search to find friends who are online. This is a good idea because if you have 1,000 friends online it becomes unmanageable without search.

On your top right, you have the option to pop-out the IM feature, as well as show or hide mini-feed stories, which are typically found in each persons profile. If you check “keep your friends open” then you will see the screen shot on your left for the duration of your time on Facebook, unless you change it. You also have the ability to go “offline” so you’re not using the IM feature.

On your bottom right, there is a welcome screen and you can view how many of your friends are currently online. Also, you can identify your status.

Reputation management concerns

I can see there being problems with the new IM feature. People or stalkers will have an easier path to harassing others. Also, don’t you think we already know enough about people and when they are online? Now you are going to let us follow people and contact them at free will! Anyways, any move you make on Facebook will be shown to your network and those outside of your network, so try and set privacy and be careful of this new IM feature.