Facebook's @facebook.com e-mail address takeover is worse than just an unwanted default change for some, who have had their entire phone address book populated with @facebook.com e-mail addresses, replacing previous contact information. Not that, there are other reports that the new @facebook.com addresses are electronic bridges to nowhere as email sent to the freshly minted addresses simply fail to be delivered. Unlike the original problem of Facebook changing default information to something nobody wants, there's no one-click fix for either of these issues. But that doesn't mean the cause is hopeless.
Issue 1: Phonebook Takeover
The problem? Users who synch their Facebook account with their phone address books have found @Facebook.com e-mail addresses in place of original (useful) contacts. Here's how Adobe employee Rachel Luxemberg explains what she makes sound like a rather nefarious move.
Today, a co-worker discovered that his contact info for me had been silently updated to overwrite my work e-mail address with my Facebook e-mail address. He discovered this only after sending work e-mails to the wrong address.
The issue isn't isolated to Luxemburg, either. CNET's Violet Blue has collected similar complaints from around the Internet.
The solution? There's not much of an easy click cure-all solution for this. One could go back into their address book and hand-update the e-mail addresses to match a Gmail or Outlook inbox. Or, for those who haven't already, if this sounds heinous, don't synch Facebook up with your phone contact list. Facebook has not yet provided an explanation or solution for the phonebook takeover. It has an engineer looking into it, it told The Atlantic Wire via e-mail. We'll update if and when Facebook gets back with more details.
Issue 2: Lost E-mails
The problem? With the secret switch, users have also complained that they haven't received important emails. Here's Luxembourg again:
And even worse, the e-mails are not actually in my Facebook messages. I checked.
They've vanished into the ether.
For all I know, I could be missing a lot more e-mails from friends, colleagues, or family members, and never even know it.
Not only have the e-mails gone to an address Luxembourg does not use, but she can't find them in her Facebook e-mail account.
The solution? Awareness. Users should know to look in their Facebook inboxes for important emails. (We know: annoying.) As for the missing e-mails, Facebook explained to The Atlantic Wire that the messages may have ended up in an "other" folder. Here's what a Facebook spokesperson told us over e-mail.
By default, messages from friends or friends of friends go into your Inbox. Everything else goes to your Other folder. (If you click on Messages in your left hand navigation menu, you'll see below it an Other folder that drops down.) That is likely where the messages are being sent from other people's emails. Even if that person is friends with them on Facebook, if the friend doesn't have that email on their Facebook account, the message could end up in the Other folder.
Just in case, check that one, too. Also, as users switch their default email addresses to their contact info of choice, the emails will soon get to the right place.
Update 2:03 p.m.: Facebook admits partial fault for the lost messages phenomenon. Beyond this "other" folder, a Facebook spokesperson told us over e-mail that it has something to do with a technical glitch.
If the user has their privacy settings for "Who can message me" set to Friends and FoF, when their friends send them an email to their @facebook.com, the message is "bouncing back" but the bounce back is not being delivered for technical reasons. We are working to change the mechanism we use to send bounces which we expect to improve delivery.
As for the synching problem, Facebook does not take total blame, but is working to fix it.
We do not believe that this is a widespread issue and have confirmed that our API is correctly delivering all email addresses that are shared with a user, regardless of whether the email addresses are shown on a person's timeline. We are investigating which devices are affected and how we can work with the relevant third parties to address this issue.