Facebook's lame attempt to promote its own email system by hiding users' outside email addresses seems to be causing no end of trouble.
First, reports are surfacing that users aren't receiving their messages -- including emails that previously would have gone to the outside addresses users had designated. Understandably, some users are irritated by the missing messages; a company spokesperson says that people just aren't looking in the right place. Messages from people who aren't friends (or friends of friends), with users are shuttled to a Facebook folder marked "other," the spokesperson says.
Of course, users have no good way of knowing this. After all, it's not as if Facebook told any of its nearly 1 billion users in advance about its plans to hide their email addresses, what effect the shift would have, or how to switch email addresses back to the original settings.
But at this point, the lack of notice from Facebook shouldn't be surprising, given the company's long history of blindsiding users with unwelcome changes to their account settings. The most recent major fiasco (before the email controversy) involved Facebook changing users' default settings to publicize information that had previously been private. Last year, Facebook agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges stemming from that debacle.
Facebook users are also reporting that email addresses in contact lists on smartphones are being changed -- without users' knowledge -- to Facebook email addresses.
"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," Adobe employee Rachel Luxemburg blogged on Friday. "He discovered this only after sending work emails to the wrong address."
A spokesperson says that engineers are investigating the phone syncing issue.
Probably the syncing problem is a glitch and not a deliberate attempt to change users' contact books. But it's a glitch that could have been avoided, had Facebook thought through the implications of its email switch before carrying it out.