The IM service is an in-browser client, and you can chat with your Facebook friends that are logged in. So far it doesn’t support external IM services, like Yahoo or MSN Messenger.
The way the launched IM reminds me of how my college grounds department cut down trees on campus – on the weekend. Why? So botany professors or tree lovers wouldn’t notice. It’s been suspected that Facebook is taking a similar tack by releasing the feature when not as many people will notice.
Facebook has been criticized for being slow and unreliable, and seemed to take this launch cautiously. The IM feature was started yesterday, on a Sunday afternoon. The thinking perhaps being that highly critical bloggers wouldn’t be so relentless. We were more likely to be offline than blogging. Or perhaps to reduce the load of people trying out the service at one time.
By adding IM to the site, people will probably stay on the site longer and perhaps visit the site more often. Advertisers like that because you’ll have more chances to see their ads. However, your boss may not be as approving. Not only is it easy to waste a lot of time chatting online while you’re at work, your employer is vulnerable to legal issues.
I just checked and I don’t have IM on my Facebook profile yet – do you?