Back in November 2010, Facebook announced plans for a 'social inbox' – a place that would serve as a hub for all communications that people use online or via mobile phones, ranging from text messages and chat messages to email messages, too. As Facebook begins releasing Message to more and more users, we take a look at what you need to know before you use the service.
Navigate the interface
The Messages home screen is populated with conversation threads you've sent and received via the original Messages since you joined Facebook. Clicking on a friend's name will display the message history. Also from the homepage, you can change the status of a message to 'read' or 'unread' by clicking on the circle next to the message's date, or delete the message thread entirely by clicking the X.
Sending a new message
To create a new message, click the button at the top. To send this message to a Facebook friend, begin typing his or her name (it will autofill). To send a message externally, type in the email address.
The message form also lets you attach a file, take a picture or video, or send the message via SMS. Once you send the message, it will be visible in a conversation thread under the recipient's name.
Adding and removing people from a conversation
If you start a conversation with more than one person, Facebook gives you the option of later adding people to the conversation. If you do this, the person you add to the conversation will be able to view the entire conversation thread. To add a person, click on the Actions drop-down menu and choose Add People.
If you have previously started a message thread that you want to add people to, note that you may not be able to do so until all of the people involved in the conversation have switched to the new Messages.
Similarly, if you were engaged in a conversation with multiple people and no longer wish to receive updates to the thread, you can choose Leave Conversation from the Actions drop-down menu.
When you sign up for the new Messages, Facebook gives you 10 invites that you can extend to your friends. Access these by scrolling to the bottom of your Messages homepage and choosing 'Invite Friends'.
Understanding the two inboxes
When you use Messages, you have two inboxes: the main one, called Messages, which stores the communications with your Facebook friends, and another called 'Other', which collects messages deemed 'less important', such as Facebook Groups you belong to and external email addresses that you have not yet approved.
If you wish to have correspondences from contacts sent to your regular Messages inbox rather than Other, open the message and choose Move to Messages from the Actions drop-down menu. The next time you receive a message from this address, it will be sent to your main Messages inbox.
Set your privacy controls: If you want to modify who can send you Facebook messages and email, visit Privacy Settings, then View Settings and choose 'Everyone', 'Friends of Friends' or 'Friends Only'. All other messages will receive bounce-back replies. Changes to this setting may take up to 24 hours to take effect.
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