Facebook’s ill-conceived roll-out of mandatory “@facebook” email addresses may have had more of an insidious impact that previously thought.
Last week when I wrote how the change would allow for anyone to spam your Facebook account I was partially correct. Christopher Penn points out in the latest “Marketing Over Coffee” podcast that not all emails actually make it to their intended recipient on Facebook, also noting that senders of bounced emails are never notified that their email didn’t reach the recipient. Coupled with the fact that @facebook is a extraordinarily basic email client (i.e. no spam folder, no folders, lacking many basic email attributes) – it appears that Facebook is completely out of their depth both with the email program itself and its awkward implementation.
The latest (most upsetting) development is that Facebook may have pushed out the “@facebook” accounts as default email for contacts in your address books (I don’t believe that Facebook has the push capability though you can manually do it on your smart phone through the Facebook app or through Yahoo Mail – so I presume the push is done through third party apps). The implication of that would be that email intended for you could be sent to your Facebook email instead, and maybe never get there at all.
The best way to check and see if somehow @facebook emails made it into your address book is to export a .csv (comma separated values) file from your email account or to find the file on a local drive. Once downloaded, open the file in Excel and use the find function to find any instances of “@facebook.com.” When you do delete them. (You’ll have to replace or import the .csv file back into your email client) And you may consider disallowing third-party apps to sync your Facebook contacts with your address book (you can deny access to your Facebook info here; https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=applications). And for goodness sake don’t sync your contacts on your phone with the Facebook app again.
It also goes without saying that you shouldn’t use your @facebook email account in any circumstance. There are too many free email platforms (Gmail springs to mind as the most robust) that will serve you far better than @facebook. And if someone contacts you on your @facebook email, take the conversation to another platform and show them know to check their .csv file.
Depending upon how widespread the third-party address book update problem is, this could very well be one of worst gaffes in the history of Facebook. And if Facebook’s miscue fouled a bunch of private email accounts we are going to be talking about this for a long, long time. It will be interesting to see how forgivable people are when changes on Facebook impact other products.
***Updated 7-3-12: As a post-script to this, Facebook says they are working to fix the glitch in their mobile app but admits that there is no way to retroactively go into your address book to fix what’s been changed. Despite what has been intimated on some site – you still need to look at the .csv file and make changes if necessary.