Does Facebook’s email change go further than you thought?
A magnifying glass is posed over a monitor displaying a Facebook page in Munich. (AP / Joerg Koch)
Published Monday, July 2, 2012 1:33PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, July 2, 2012 1:37PM EDT
A recent decision by Facebook to force in-house email addresses on its users has some people furious at the switch – and others conspiratorially wondering about changes to address books on tablets and smartphones.
In a recent change to its social website, Facebook replaced the primary email addresses listed in the users’ contact information to @facebook.com accounts.
But an alarming number of people have taken to the Internet recently to complain that the @facebook.com switch goes even further than previously believed, changing contact information in some Facebook-connected smartphones.
The tech media website CNET first reported of Facebook users complaining that the contact email addresses on phones and tablets had been altered to redirect emails to @facebook email addresses without consent.
On her personal blog, Adobe employee Rachel Luxemburg suggests the problem could go even farther – it appears in some cases the change is making emails disappear entirely.
“Today, a co-worker discovered that his contact info for me had been silently updated to overwrite my work email address with my Facebook email address,” Luxemburg wrote on Friday.
“He discovered this only after sending work emails to the wrong address.
“And even worse, the emails are not actually in my Facebook messages. I checked. They’ve vanished into the ether.”
The move seems to be designed to create a captive audience, keeping more activity inside the Facebook framework, and cutting out media companies such as Google and Yahoo.
Those who have Google, Yahoo or other email accounts attached to their Facebook page now receive their correspondence directly into their Facebook message centre.
It is a change that has irritated many users, several of whom have claimed the email switcheroo is the last straw.
“I am so close to closing my Facebook account it is not even funny anymore,” one user wrote on the Slashdot message forum.
Users are able to reset their contact information, but it is unlikely that all 900 million Facebook users will hear about the change.
The email switch, described by many bloggers as a “silent change,” was announced in a short April press statement and received little fanfare before it was complete.
“Starting today, we're updating addresses on Facebook to make them consistent across our site,” Facebook wrote on April 12. “Now, the address people use to get to your timeline and send you email on Facebook will be the same.
Bloggers and Facebook users have been speaking out in recent days, however, and are calling for the site to revoke the changes.
One commenter on a Gizmodo article about the switch said they were stunned the change was allowed to go so far.
“I never even thought to look after the initial switch,” wrote langadamd. “I looked through most contacts and they were all Facebook emails. It just seems weird that they would update this over the existing email that I manually put in for them years ago.”
TechCrunch blogger Josh Constine called the change “irresponsible,” considering many users will assume the address posted to their friends’ Facebook page are their primary accounts.
“I think Facebook should seriously consider a rollback or at least some strong notification of the changes so that 900 million people don’t suddenly find their email addresses more closed and disconnected,” he wrote.
Have you noticed a change to your smartphone’s address book? Share your @facebook.com horror stories.