Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Facebook Raises Hackles Over Change To Users Email Addresses

Los Angeles -- Immensely disappointing its large number of users, social networking outfit Facebook is facing a backlash from users who are venting anger over a move by the social media giant's decision to alter all its users' published email addresses to a facebook.com address. 

In fact, the reaction kindled as Facebook users began to notice on Monday that the email address shown in their profiles had been changed to an @facebook.com address, and many started complaining. Apparent shortcomings in the company's communication of the changes appeared to aggravate what may otherwise have been a minor issue.

Within moments, numerous Twitter messages and posts on Facebook's community forums, users blasted the company for making the change without telling them about it beforehand.

“Who in the hell do you think you are to change my email address without my permission?” Facebook user Michael McFatridge said in a Facebook community forum. “That is a clear violation of my privacy and not what I intended when I entered my contact information.”

McFatridge further said that he has since changed the email addresses used for his account back to the original. “[I] would expect someone to explain to everyone why you did this without permission.”

Lisa Smith, another Facebook user on the same forum, reprimanded the company for treating users like “errant preschoolers.”

“I want to be able to decide how people contact me,” Smith wrote. “I have enough email addresses and I do not need Facebook telling me I need another one.”

The unexpected move has Facebook users fuming. And rather than enhancing Facebook's efforts to get its users to adapt to its communications, the move appears to be driving them away from it.

“Facebook forces all users over to @facebook.com e-mail address … Like I'll ever use this,” Alex Couros, professor of educational technology and media at the University of Regina's Faculty of Education wrote on Twitter, echoing a reaction from many Facebook users.

“Program or be Programmed,” demonstrated by Facebook, who forces all users over to @facebook.com e-mail addresses,” tweeted Mozilla Europe founder Tristan Nitot, in what could be the most succinct summation of Facebook's latest move.

Elaine Mah was among those displeased by Facebook's autocratic email takeover. Like many, what irritated Mah the most was the fact Facebook did it without telling users.

Consoling the users, the company said users had been notified of the impending move. In April, the company announced it would start updating addresses “to make them consistent across our site.” The announcement, however, failed to mention how the company planned to implement the change.

A Facebook spokeswoman said Tuesday that “in hindsight” the company probably should have better explained the whole process for the email switchover. She pointed to a brief, four-sentence press release issued by Facebook in April in which the company announced its plans to update email addresses to make them consistent across its site. “Now, the address people use to get to your timeline and send you email on Facebook will be the same,” the company announced at that time.

Asked if the move was made to bolster Facebook's own messaging and email presence, she said, “We want people to use whatever service is most effective for them,” adding that the move was made to add consistency to the site once every user was assigned an @facebook.com address. The change also affected all Facebook employees, she said.

The Facebook spokeswoman further said, “In addition to everyone receiving an address, we are also rolling out a new setting that gives people the choice to decide which addresses they want to show on their timelines.”

In order to switch off the Facebook.com email or take your email contact info off your Facebook timeline, here is how to do it:

Go to your Facebook profile page and click on update info or about. Both take you to a page that has a box – among others – with your contact info. Click on edit.

That will take you to a list of the emails you have listed with Facebook. To the right of each email address there is a little tick box and if you hover your cursor over that, it will give you dropdown options “shown on timeline” or “hidden from timeline.” Click on hidden from timeline in the little circle beside the Facebook email.

Nevertheless, Facebook's move spawned an array of angry online comments. Blog posts began to appear almost immediately after the email change was implemented, advising users how to undo it.

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