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Facebook swaps email addresses on user accounts without warning


Looking over his shoulder? Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg attends a town hall style meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at Facebook headquarters on April 20, 2011 in Palo Alto, California.


Justin Sullivan

Facebook has found a new way to get more people to use Facebook email: editing your profile for you. Facebook has changed the displayed email address on user accounts and replaced it with a Facebook email address, instead. If someone sends an email to your Facebook address, the message goes straight to your Facebook message inbox. 

Blogger Gervase Markham first caught the change on Saturday. "Facebook silently inserted themselves into the path of formerly-direct unencrypted communications from people who want to email me," Markham wrote.

The switch has received heavy criticism around the web. For starters, some people don't like being contacted via Facebook message. Mashable reported that users have experienced issues with Facebook messaging, such as having messages end up in an "Other Messages" folder that they didn't know existed. 

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Users can switch their displayed email addresses back if they want to, and PCWorld gives careful instructions on how to do so. But users are also irritated that Facebook made the change without informing users that it would be doing so. Security researcher Ashkan Soltani posted on Twitter that he found it "slightly fishy" for Facebook to make the change without any "user consent," while Forbes described the move as "Facebook's lame attempt to force its email service on you."

Facebook admitted to making the switch after being questioned by reporters, and defended the move. “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,” Facebook spokesperson Andrew Noyes wrote in an email to Forbes