Facebook Gears to Topple Google

They call it Project Titan.

Some say it might topple Google’s stake as the top dog of email.

And who’s the one who’s trying to take them down? It’s Facebook.

Facebook revealed that they would now feature a “social messaging” email service, giving users the access to a Facebook-themed email account. All users would get an email address such as user@facebook.com.

The email service would be added to the current messaging service that users can access now. It would feature two sections – or inboxes – one for messages inside of Facebook (similar to the current system used) and one for messages outside of Facebook. A user would be able to check their friends’ statuses and email their bosses, all on the same site.

Before the super secret Project Titan was unveiled, rumors surfaced about the new plan of the social network giant.

Rumors are still running rampant about the nature of the project, including the report that this is meant to take down Gmail as one of the most used email providers. It seems to many observers that Facebook is gearing to take Google down as the ruler of the Internet, like an online Napoleon.

Google is the top dog of the Internet, and updates it's logo for special occasions. Logo copyright Google Inc.

But according to Mark Zuckerburg, head of Facebook Inc, his new service isn’t going to replace email as a primary form of communication.

“I think Gmail’s a really good product…we just think that this simpler kind of message is how people will shift their communication,” he said of what Project Titan actually means for users.

Zuckerberg has also downplayed the claim that his site was attempting to take over  email, stating that email is still important to many people and will be in the future, but he admitted that more and more people would gravitate towards Facebook mail over time.

“What?” said Lauren Ali, “I don’t see myself using that. I’d much rather just wait until my friends go online.”

“I don’t think I’d use it,” said another student.

Facebook based email wouldn’t just contend with Gmail, either. It would also come up against providers like Yahoo, AOL, Microsoft, Thunderbird (an offshoot of Firefox) and Apple Mail. According to comscore, Microsoft’s Hotmail has 361 million global users, followed by Yahoo Mail’s 273 million users and Gmail’s 193 million users, and a Facebook email could drastically change these dynamics.

Yahoo, too, is trying to get ahead of the game, recently launching an updated version of Yahoo Mail, where users can update their Twitter and Facebook statuses from Yahoo.

The service would have a “social inbox” along with a regular email inbox, so users can separate their friends from other, outside email messages.

Facebook is one of the world's biggest social networks. Logo copyright Facebook Inc.

“We can do some really good filtering for you because we know who your friends are,” said Zuckerberg.

This announcement came out after the “ladybug” incident, where thousands of women had their accounts deactivated by a bug from a program that looks for fake Facebook accounts, and then were sent emails telling them that they had to present their photo ID over email, or other government documents, to validate their identity.

Facebook has reportedly reactivated those accounts affected, but the stain on it’s reputation remains, and some are asking the question: “If we can’t trust them with our accounts, how are we supposed to trust them with our email?”

But the numbers of people willing to trust Facebook are far more than the people who don’t wish to share their information with the site.

The numbers can no longer be counted in the hundreds and thousands, but millions and billions.

Facebook came on the scene in February 2004, and since then has accumulated over 400 million active users.

The numbers get more and more impressive. Fifty percent of these 400 million log on to the site every day and there are more than 2 billion photographs uploaded to the site every month, with about 60 million statuses are updated every day. The average user has about 130 friends, and the page with the most fans is Texas Hold’em Poker (an online game).

The fifth Page with the most fans? Vin Diesel.

Yahoo is one of the world's top email providers. Image courtesy Yahoo Inc.

Facebook has long defeated Myspace in the social network game. In 2009, Facebook had a registered 112 million United States users, while Myspace had only 57 million users.

The website has yet to state when the new plan will go into effect. No matter what happens, this is a step forward for the site – and who knows what effect it will have in the overall picture or how it will change the email and private messaging game.

by Gabrielle Bauman