Confounding rumours about what Facebook would announce, founder Mark Zuckerberg said the system was "not e-mail".
Instead, he said, it was modelled on instant messaging systems and will route messages to people no matter how they are using Facebook.
"It will handle messages across all the ways you want to communicate," said Mr Zuckerberg.
"This is not an e-mail killer," said Mr Zuckerberg. "It is a messaging system that includes e-mail as part of it."
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