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Facebook changes your email adddress without telling you

June 27, 2012

Incredibly disappointed with Facebook’s decision to change users’ email addresses this week without consulting anyone. I found out today that they’ve changed the publicly displayed email address on your profile from whatever you had to your @facebook.com address – which doesn’t forward emails to your nominated address, it actually replaces it and drives those messages into their own message centre.

I’m very conscious of people’s right to online privacy, but have never been a major advocate in the way that some people are. What’s much more sensitive to me though, is when someone else decides to change the space that a person has set up for themself. When you go to a friend’s house, or to your workplace, do you start rearranging the furniture when you get there? Or replacing it?  When you visit someone’s website, do you try and change the background colour, or the details on it? No, because that’s actually illegal. Why should someone’s personal profile on a social network be any different? I compare it to something like this blog – WordPress provides me with the tools to create it, and I am left to my own devices to use their technology, without fear that they’ll come and change my bio, my details, or any of the content I create (unless it’s illegal / inappropriate etc)

Ostensibly, the Facebook email change was made as a competitive move to try and compete with Google’s Gmail, which has some 350 million global users according to wikipedia. Effectively, what it does though is give users a slap in the face to remind them that their personal space on Facebook does not actually belong to them – and that Facebook reserves the right to change it when they feel like it. Given the pressure on Facebook to achieve metrics to satisfy the share market – it’s not a problem I expect to go away anytime soon, and it’s such a shame to see the original social network head this way so quickly after their IPO.

As always, the balance between creating commercially viable online products and creating things that people love to use is a tricky one – and sentiment against Facebook is growing rapidly.

For the record, if you want to change your displayed email address, you need to update your information manually and re-display your old email address (or hide the facebook.com one)

 

 

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