Facebook’s email addresses disaster

Last week, Facebook made the email addresses listed on your profile invisible and instead made the @facebook.com address the only visible address. They hid the change behind privacy concerns explaining that it was a way for people to actually choose which address to show and in the meantime to use Facebook’s, which is based on your profile URL so public by default. To me, it sounds more like “now use our Facebook email service so you can spend more time on Facebook so we can show you more ads so we can make more money”. Of course, Facebook did not notify its users.

However, Android, Blackberry and recently the iOS6 beta users benefit from an integration enabling them to tie their address book with Facebook. You can have your friends’ birthday date added to your address book or have their home address updated whenever your friend does on Facebook. It solves the problem of keep your contacts information up-to-date. This works for email too and that’s where Facebook decided to become creepy. But, hey, who’s surprised?

Last week’s change then pushed to people’s smartphones the @facebook.com email address and replaced the previous ones used before, without notifying them. This creates a mess. Emails are sent to addresses people don’t check often. Emails are sent to the wrong address and there is a high potential for missed work/friend/family emails. Many complained as a result.

But this is not the worse, the service is actually flawed. Violet Blue from CNet.com:

An alarming number of people are reporting that the new e-mail address Facebook forced on users this week is changing their address books while intercepting and losing unknown amounts of e-mail. Facebook users say contacts' e-mail addresses on phones and personal devices have been altered without their consent -- and their e-mail communication is being redirected elsewhere, and lost.

This a terrible terrible move from Facebook and a hit to users’ trust.