June 26, 2012
Facebook Changes User Email Settings, But The Fix Is Simple
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com
Facebook has done many things that have been less than popular through the years, but this latest one takes the cake. It seems the social network has switched all email addresses without even getting permission from any of its nearly 1 billion users.
The change was first discovered on Saturday and has resulted in either users having their @facebook.com address being listed or having all their other addresses hidden. The change officially occurred, albeit silently, just a day before, on Friday.
The issue -- which has been reported on by a number of bloggers, including Kashmir Hill of Forbes´ Not-So Private Parts blog, who labeled the move as “Facebook´s lame attempt to force its email service on you” -- is not as dramatic as it may seem, however. And for those of you who do not wish to keep the updated @facebook.com suffix you can change back to your standard email settings with just a few clicks (see further below).
Facebook announced its email service in 2010. While the move was seen as a way to replace other popular email services, such as Gmail and Yahoo, it hasn´t really garnered much attention from its users. While it makes sense for the social network to promote its own services, the way it has gone about it, will likely only further damage the company℠s email service reputation.
Blogger Gervase Markham had this to say: “Facebook silently inserted themselves into the path of formerly-direct unencrypted communications from people who want to email me“¦ In other contexts, this is known as a Man In The Middle (MITM) attack. What on earth do they think they are playing at?”
The change was supposedly announced back in April when it mentioned all users would be getting updated URL and email addresses. Yet, it never made mention of the fact that users´ listed emails would also be changed.
Under the latest change, all email normally sent through Facebook to a user´s primary email are now sent to a user´s Facebook inbox, and there is no notification email to say it went there, wrote Markham in his blog. He added that what makes it worse is that the messages do not just pass through Facebook´s servers on the way to where it would have gone, they keep it, and do not send a copy.
A spokesperson for Facebook explained the latest change in a non-explanatory way.
“As we announced back in April, we´ve been updating addresses on Facebook to make them consistent across our site“¦ In addition to everyone receiving an address, we´re also rolling out a new setting that gives people the choice to decide which addresses they want to show on their timelines,” the spokesperson said, as cited by Reuters.
“Ever since the launch of timeline, people have had the ability to control what posts they want to show or hide on their own timelines, and today we're extending that to other information they post, starting with the Facebook address,” said the spokesperson.
In the end, it is likely safe to say that instead of allowing us to choose which email addresses we prefer to appear on our Timeline, Facebook went ahead and made that choice for us, as it apparently believes it knows what is in our best interest -- or perhaps what is in its own best interest: promoting its faltering email client.
Now to make the switch back to your original settings: First you will need to go to your Timeline; click about, under your contact info; scroll down to “Contact Info” and hit edit; switch all of the crossed out circle symbols to a full circle for each inbox you want visible on your profile; if you do not wish @Facebook.com to appear, switch it from full circle to crossed out circle. Once you complete this simple task make sure to save and exit, and you should be back to normalcy.