Personal message, often abbreviated as PM, is a private form of communication between different members on a platform. It is only seen and accessible by the users participating in the message. It has grown popular because of the increasing demand for privacy and collaboration in this society where public sharing domain dominants.
There are two main types of personal message: a feature on social platforms and private messaging services. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are all examples in which social media included personal messaging features to provide space for private interactions amongst their users. WhatsApp, Kik Messenger, and Snapchat are examples of pure private messaging tools. Users create and sign up for accounts to connect privately with selected friends.
Besides serving as a tool to connect privately with friends and family, personal message has also gained momentum in the workspace. Professionals are using it to reach coworkers who are not located in the same room to increase efficiency during meetings and work time. Although useful, personal message facilitates the fuzzy boundary between work and private lives. For many, it makes work hours longer and private times shorter.
As early as 100 BC the first form of personal messaging was put into action, when human messengers were used to send messages across lands. As time went by new methods of personal messaging had developed.
The development of computers sparked the information revolution, which changed the way humans communicate with each other. Peter Drucker published an article centering on the theme that the computer is to the Information Revolution, as the railroad was to the Industrial Revolution. The railroad unified the United States from the east to the west coast, but the computer unified the entire globe (from a communication standpoint).
In unifying many nations across the globe, the computer revolutionized many different forms of communication, in particular the personal message. The advent of the Internet paved the road for communication platforms like ARPANET, or the more-commonly known Yahoo! and AOL. ARPANET sent the first-ever email back in 1971, and thus a new form of the personal message was born. This form of personal messaging allows users to send messages at the click of a button. The popularity of email as a form of personal message has skyrocketed since, and will continue to be an apt platform for personal messaging.
Today, the most typical forms of personal messaging involve social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. In 2010, Facebook announced a new Facebook Messages service, which allowed users to send personal messages to each other via the Facebook site. Twitter jumped on the bandwagon and introduced their own form of personal messaging in 2013.
Modern forms of personal messaging can even include sending picture or video messages. Snapchat is an app that allows users to send personal pictures or videos to other users. Here’s the trick: The pictures and videos can be viewed for 1–10 seconds, after which they will disappear and be deleted from Snapchat’s servers.
 Some common forms of personal messaging include Facebook messaging (sometimes referred to as "inboxing"), Twitter direct messaging, Instagram direct messaging, and snapchatting. All of these forms of personal or private messaging create a way for the user to make a private space on a usually public site. For example, most activity on Facebook is public, even if only to one's friends. Messaging or "inboxing" on Facebook allows for a private space. This is different from email and even texting, where the "usual" uses are private anyways.
Etiquette of personal messaging
There are unsaid, known rules that govern many interactions, but with technology and social media being relatively recent developments, the etiquette can sometimes be difficult to know, learn, or follow. One of the main issues of interactions over technology is that without body language, facial expressions, or tone of voice, it can be easy to misunderstand or misinterpret parts of conversations. Etiquette in personal messaging specifically is important because it has many of the same qualities of a conversation, but lacks the face-to-face interaction that allows for the detection of sarcasm, uncomfortableness, etc. Etiquette therefore often requires exaggeration in order to make things clear, and not necessarily saying the same things that one may in a face-to-face interaction that could be construed without body language, facial expressions, or tone of voice.
In January 2014, Matthew Campbell and Michael Hurley filed a lawsuit against Facebook, claiming that the information in their supposedly ‘private’ messages was being read and used as a way the generate profit. Facebook scans messages containing URLs “for purposes including but not limited to data mining and user profiling”. Believed to be a breach of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.
In 2008-2009, there was a controversy in which Facebook users thought their once ‘private’ messages were becoming open for the public to see. Large retaliation from the public, blaming Facebook that users’ privacy was breached. It was eventually found that these messages were wall posts all along, but weren’t really made noticeable (because no ‘likes’ or ‘comments’) before the update of Timeline in 2011.
In a popular phishing scheme, used by hackers as a way to gain access to victim’s emails, emails are sent out with the subject titled “private message”. When opened, in order to view this “private message”, emails were required to give their login and password, and in doing so gave ‘phishers’ ability to hijack emails.
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