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The Compliance Message Behind Facebook’s New Messaging System

Facebook this week announced a new messaging system that encompasses and integrates email, instant messaging, SMS, and, of course, Facebook messaging. The idea is to bring together these previously-separate stacks of communication, and it’s a good one because (a) it reflects the way people actually communicate, and (b) it sets the stage for compliance solutions to come. Oh, the irony!

We are long accustomed to connecting with our friends and colleagues in a great many ways: by talking on the phone, writing a letter, sending an email, or – perish the thought! – actually seeing them in person. What we don’t do is think of them as separate individuals each time we use a different channel. They are who they are regardless of how we’re in touch with them, and that is the first point Facebook is validating so nicely with its emerging new offering.

The second point has to do with achieving compliance by efficiently managing those multichannel communications. Right now, this task is often complicated and diffuse because each channel is being managed individually, if at all. (Consider the long-standing questions about how to handle emails vs. texts vs. social media.) But if/when Facebook’s new system is proven to work, it will set the stage for new solutions that will camp onto the new-fangled universal messaging server and apply their audit-and-control disciplines per-person rather than per-technology.

It would be surprising to learn that Facebook had organizational compliance uppermost in its mind when developing its new offering, but it is on the verge nonetheless of setting the stage among consumers for a concept critical to companies – a bit of unwitting pioneering that is especially ironic considering the company has had so many recent issues regarding misuse of users’ personal information …

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