Remember When Facebook Changed Your Default Email To The One It Provides That You Never Use?

You know that one time you were like, “Hey, who needs this personal email I use on a daily basis, when I have Facebook email! Time to tell everyone they should contact me at my @facebook.com email address, and only there!”? No? That’s probably because recently, Facebook went ahead and quietly switched users’ primary email address to its in-house email address without bothering to really tell anyone about it.

The jig was up on Saturday, and by Monday the Internets were abuzz with the switch that occurred without notice on all Facebook profiles. Would you rather have someone contact you at totallyfakemadeupemail7 at yourpreferenceofdomainzzz dot com, or have all your emails sent to your Facebook message inbox? Yeah, we thought as much.

It would appear that users were not asked explicit permission for the switch, which often resulted in other email addresses being hidden on Timelines.

According to the Chicago Tribune, a blogger figured out the change on Saturday, writing:

“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?”

Facebook reportedly says it told everyone all about this fun change back in April when it sent a note all about how users would be getting new URL and email addresses. Nothing was said about changing which emails users had listed.

“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,” a spokesman for the company said. “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.”

Here’s how you change up your email address settings: Go to your Timeline and click on “About.” Scroll down in “Contact Information” and hit “Edit.” Use the “X” out button to hide the @facebook.com email and show your preferred email address. Or if you don’t have Timeline yet (bless your heart, I’m jealous): Go to your profile, click “Update info,” scroll down to “Contact Info” and click “Edit.” Customize your setting depending on each individual email address.

Facebook changes everyone’s listed emails to ‘@facebook.com’ [Chicago Tribune]

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  1. trswyo says:

    You think FB makes all of these stupid changes and not post anything about so thousands of news outlets write stories about it and FB gets even more free PR…. Then the masses log on to FB to check it out, and views all of their advertising.

  2. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    I am going to write a nasty letter to the new shareholders.

  3. nugatory says:

    I’m so glad I haven’t switched to Timeline. I refuse to read ones that are using it, its just far to difficult to follow. There is a reason newspapers write down a column then start the next column, not putting one paragraph in column A, then the next in B and the third back in A….

    • nugatory says:

      Meredith Chin, Facebook’s manager of product communications ‘I’m seeing this whole meme around the idea that it’s us pushing for people only to use facebook.com addresses,’ Chin said. “That was not our intention. We want people to use whatever’s easier for them.”

      They know exactly what they are doing, they’re just playing dumb. They want everyone to use facebook email so they can snoop and sell the data to advertisers.

      I also noticed that you can’t get rid of your facebook email address.

      • Coleoptera Girl says:

        Yeah, you can have it not display on your page or only display to you, but that address now exists and anyone who can see your first and last name can now send you a message on Facebook.

      • Not Given says:

        Then why did they change my email address on my page and hide the one I put on there? I sure didn’t do it.

    • Coles_Law says:

      They’re forcing people over-soon enough, they’ll switch you over to Timeline and that will be that.

    • Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

      Ditto. I will not be surprised if FB starts forcing Timeline though, in the near future…

      I rarely visit people’s profiles, and even more so if that person has Timeline enabled. It just goes against my anal-retentive self — too “disorganized” for my taste.

  4. Blueskylaw says:

    Good idea this, hackathon that, Facebook is a big fuc*ing behemoth now that tries to make itself seem like your best small-town friend. They don’t give a fu*k about you or your concerns; they exist now solely to harvest your personal information by ANY MEANS POSSIBLE in order to satisfy the now insatiable appetitie that is Wall Street.

  5. AstroPig7 says:

    FYI: The steps to change your e-mail address don’t work if you aren’t using timeline.

    • chefboyardee says:

      Actually they do. I’m not using timeline and I followed Lifehacker’s instructions yesterday just fine. They were similar to the ones at the end of this post.

      • AstroPig7 says:

        I don’t have a list of editable e-mail addresses in the location they specify. However, I do if I edit my profile and open Contact Information. The bigger concern I have is I originally showed no e-mail address on my policy. Facebook deciding that I needed one is… well, par for the course.

        • AstroPig7 says:

          Also, I think this post might have been updated since I initially read it. I originally read the Lifehacker article and found their instructions similarly lacking. Now that this post has the instructions we’ve both cited, I just look silly.

          • chefboyardee says:

            I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if they updated it, they tend to rush things to “print” and then fix them on the fly.

            Also, what’s the point of the internet if not to look silly? :)

        • Not Given says:

          Or if you don’t have Timeline yet (bless your heart, I’m jealous): Go to your profile, click “Update info,” scroll down to “Contact Info” and click “Edit.” Customize your setting depending on each individual email address.

    • cmdr.sass says:

      That’s because if you aren’t using timeline, it’s easy:

      Go to Info > Contact Information > Edit.

      Now click the dropdown arrow to show your @facebook.com to “Only Me”.

      Then, click the second dropdown arrow to select “Hidden from Profile”.

      Make sure you select a different email address to be “Shown on My Profile”.

      Finally, click “Save Changes”

      • HogwartsProfessor says:

        Thanks. Imma post this for my peeps who don’t know.

      • scoosdad says:

        It’s sad when something which should be so simple is so complicated that an outside website is required to give instructions on how to fix it.

  6. Scooter McGee says:

    “We’re also rolling out a new setting that gives people the choice to decide which addresses they want to show on their timelines”

    When did ‘choice to decide’ become ‘we’re forcing it on you?’

  7. umbriago says:

    Facebook! Where you’re the product!

    • Scooter McGee says:

      Consumerist comments so need a thanks or this is great button (avoiding using the term ‘like’).

      • Coleoptera Girl says:

        I say a “+1″ and a “-1″ button would suffice. “Like” is a horrible term because not all good comments are likeable… but they do deserve points for the insight they provide.

        • dangermike says:

          Perhaps something like the slashdot moderation (the original source of “+1″ with moderation points occasionally and randomly assigned to users with enough comments and an old enough account, and with the requirement that moderation and participation cannot occur in the same post, and with several categories for the moderation points to be assigned to when ‘spent’. )

        • dangermike says:

          I don’t like that there’s yet another email account associated with my name… not so much over any perception that they’re “forcing me” to use it. Clearly, they are not. I choose not to display much if any contact info on my facebook page due to the increased amount of spam I received when it was visible. I have since removed as much of it as possible. I sign in with spamtrap email address and my friends that need my number either already have it or can just ask me for it. What I don’t like is that the new email addresses might be a new avenue of spamming (by simply knowing my name, stuff can be sent to me, and with with the data mining that FB does, and the likelihood that they would play matchmaker between people and spammers give me the willies) or a new route for identity theft.

          All in all, a bad move but the controversy is over the wrong aspects of it.

          • dangermike says:

            ok. interesting bug in the comment system. This should have been a top level comment, not a reply. Apparently, don’t use the back button…

  8. Costner says:

    For the record I switched mine back yesterday, but that being said nobody I know ever uses Facebook to find an email and in turn email that person. If they want to reach me, they simply send me a Facebook message (IM).

    Besides, the only people who can see my email on Facebook are already my friends, so they either already have my email address, or they just send me Facebook messages. I honestly cannot remember the last time I received an email from a friend – they are either Facebook messages or text messages… but rarely does anyone send me emails.

    I really think this issue is being blown out of proportion for what it is. If it were not for these stories I’m guessing most users would probably go a year without ever even realizing it was changed.

    • elangomatt says:

      I agree with you on most of you post, but not the first sentence of the last paragraph. Facebook needs to learn that they should not just unilaterally make changes that affect everyone without even so much of a notification. If they give a pop up next time you log in saying “Hey we made this change, do this if you want to change it back” then Facebook is off the hook. Better yet, make it opt-in and don’t force it upon everyone.

  9. ForReason says:

    You’d think with their IPO flop making it clear FB isn’t worth as much in the public’s eye as they thought, they’d be dead set on NOT alienating their users even more. Just goes to show, you can’t fix Stupid.

  10. You Can Call Me Al(isa) says:

    I was never forced into anything. It was at the top of my page when I logged in one day. IIRC, it asked me if I wanted to switch my primary email to the new FB email and I could opt out if I wanted.

    Maybe they didn’t do that for everyone? Or maybe people just ignored the message when they logged in?

    • thomwithanh says:

      I check my FB almost every day and I NEVER had a message like that…

    • Willow16 says:

      I never had a notification either. I just went and changed it back to my gmail email address and made my facebook email completely private.

      • You Can Call Me Al(isa) says:

        I see. I guess they didn’t notify everyone. I would have been irritated, too.

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      I never had a message like that myself. I didn’t even know about it until one of my friends posted about it, and then I read this post here.

  11. thomwithanh says:

    I switched it back to my gmail account, though I get this funny feeling the @facebook.com address may keep making unwelcome appearances on a regular basis.

    • njack says:

      I can’t wait until they decide to automatically forward emails sent to your @facebook address to your real (default) email address.

  12. January says:

    So how DO you access any emails sent to your *facebook account*?

    • eirrom says:

      The emails appear in your Messages. I was curious too so i just sent an email to my Facebook email address.

  13. longfeltwant says:

    Do people really use Facebook? I mean, I have an account, but I only log in once every few months, if that. I figure almost everyone uses it that way.

    2014 called me this morning and forwarded me a picture of Zuckerberg weeping on top of a pile of his no-longer-riches.

    • mikedt says:

      Some people live on it, and not just teenagers. My wife’s coworker lives on it and she’s probably in her 50s.

    • Dave on bass says:

      You might be even rarer than me in that regard. I’m one of the rare few that doesn’t have a FB account, nor do I want one. But EVERYBODY I know has one and is hooked up to it like it’s life support.

  14. DJ Charlie says:

    Odd, I went to change mine, and it was already set to my real email address.

  15. PragmaticGuy says:

    I hardly ever sign into Facebook but thanks for letting me know about this. I blocked both email addresses in my profile, the old and the new. I don’t need more spam crap. And, I never even knew about this Timeline thing and really don’t care to.

  16. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    i checked when i heard about this and mine hasn’t been changed from my normal email address. although, i haven’t been switched to timeline yet either. i am hoping they just forget about me

  17. limbodog says:

    I set up a brandy new email address which I have never since checked just for FB so I wouldn’t have to read all the spam. If they changed it to another email address I’ll never use, I don’t really see the problem.

  18. dangermike says:

    I don’t like that there’s yet another email account associated with my name… not so much over any perception that they’re “forcing me” to use it. Clearly, they are not. I choose not to display much if any contact info on my facebook page due to the increased amount of spam I received when it was visible. I have since removed as much of it as possible. I sign in with spamtrap email address and my friends that need my number either already have it or can just ask me for it. What I don’t like is that the new email addresses might be a new avenue of spamming (by simply knowing my name, stuff can be sent to me, and with with the data mining that FB does, and the likelihood that they would play matchmaker between people and spammers give me the willies) or a new route for identity theft.

    All in all, a bad move but the controversy is over the wrong aspects of it.

  19. ronbo97 says:

    So here’s a dumb question:

    Considering everything we know about facebook harvesting every last shred of data about you with the intent of monetizing it, why would anyone supply fb with their ‘real’ email address ? The email addy I gave them (because I think it’s required), is my ‘toxic waste dump’ email address; the one I use when an email is required to sign up for *whatever*. That’s what yahoo or hotmail is for, BTW. I don’t really care if they change it to my.name@facebook.com, as it will never be used for anything.

    Timeline: To anyone that switched over to that worthless POS– congratulations ! You’ve been successfully socially engineered ! Remember back in December when the word was, ‘you may as well switch now, because if you don’t, they will do it for you’ ???? Well, that was seven months ago. I never took the bait and i still have the old look, with all the messages on my wall in logical, chronological order instead of that two column nonsense.

    • njack says:

      They will eventually change it or at least break the old UI, but hold out as long as you can. I know I am.