When Facebook originally launched, it was during a time when instant messaging was becoming a primary communication tool for many high school and college students. Facebook users would stop by Facebook to post a status update, upload a few photos, or check in on their friends, but they still did the bulk of their communicating using other tools such as AIM, Yahoo! IM, Google Talk, and so on.
Although Facebook didn’t face any competition from these services as far as feature offerings, Facebook still wants to keep users on its page as long as possible. The longer users stay on the Facebook site, the more likely they are to share, take a few more minutes to upload that batch of photos, or search for a few more friends.
With that in mind, Facebook launched Facebook Chat, its instant messaging tool. Facebook Chat enables you to instantly message and chat with any of your friends who are logged into Facebook. From the chat window, which resides in the rightmost part of your window (see Figure 1.20), you can launch into that user’s profile.
Figure 1.20 Facebook Chat used within Facebook. You can also use Facebook Chat in IM aggregator services such as Meebo.
As Facebook Chat has continued to grow, several instant messaging applications have been created to help users consolidate their various IM services into one tool (such as Adium, Jabber, and Meebo).