Facebook email switcheroo irks users

The company swapped the email addresses on user profiles, and now users are reporting a number of problems.

By Kim Peterson Jul 2, 2012 4:16PM
Credit: © David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Caption: Facebook Inc. signageFacebook (FB) gave users their own @facebook.com email addresses a while ago, but no one really seemed to care. People liked the email accounts they already had, thank you very much.

Facebook went a step further recently, swapping the email address on user profiles with their @facebook.com addresses. And that move seems to be blowing up in the company's face.

Users say that contact email addresses on their phones have changed, or duplicate contacts have popped up. Others say their email messages are disappearing. Facebook, for its part, acknowledges user confusion.

Gizmodo writer Sam Biddle said some of his friends now have a second, duplicate contact with nothing but Facebook information on his iPhone contact list. Those duplicate contacts cannot be deleted. Facebook told Gizmodo it was looking into the weird syncing issue.

Cnet's Violet Blue has a good roundup of the problems Facebook users are facing. One Adobe Systems (ADBE) employee, Rachel Luxemburg, said her contact information was changed, and people began sending email messages to her Facebook address. "Even worse, the emails are not actually in my Facebook messages," the employee writes. "I checked. They've vanished into the ether."

Another user Blue linked to said that after syncing a phone with Facebook, "I have an address book full of bogus email addresses where they were correct before."

Facebook told Cnet that messages from friends or from friends of friends should go into a user's inbox. Everything else goes into the "other" folder.

You can't delete the Facebook email address, PCMagazine reports. The only thing you can do is hide it or make it visible just to yourself. But you can change your privacy settings to make sure no one emails you through your Facebook address. (See here for more.)

The email switcheroo isn't winning Facebook any fans. Forbes calls it a "lame attempt." And the company admitted it should have done a better job explaining the issue to users.

"Clearly, their notification leaves a lot to be desired," Gartner analyst Ray Valdes told The Wall Street Journal.

ReadWriteWeb's Dave Copeland said Facebook needs to worry about alienating its own users. "Realizing that user growth is reaching an inevitable slowdown, the only way for Facebook to grow advertising revenue over time is to get users to spend more time on the site," he writes. "Forcing you to check email is one way to do that."

This is one in a long line of unwelcome changes Facebook has inflicted on its users. I've become pretty good at going into my Facebook settings to undo the privacy changes Facebook enacts from time to time. Valdes describes Facebook's changes as bringing users "to the edge of their comfort zone -- and sometimes beyond that."

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says in this video that people are more comfortable with sharing information, and that Facebook's policies reflect that.

"People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people," he told TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington in 2010. "That social norm is just something that has evolved over time. We view it as our role in the system to constantly be innovating and be updating what our system is to reflect what the current social norms are."

More from MSN Money

Jul 6, 2012 9:40AM

Too much security, too little (none) customer service.


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