Facebook has reached critical density in the realm of social networking; those few that don’t have a Facebook account stand out as lonely voices in the wilderness, their absence a protest of one sort or another. As they’ve grown, Facebook has attempted to slowly absorb other facets of online life- casual games, movie rentals, instant messaging, and now email. A while back Facebook launched the @Facebook email service that few heard of, and those few promptly ignored the new service in favor of the equally ubiquitous Gmail. Stung by the rejection, Facebook has since decided to be more Sith than Jedi and have quietly fostered their email service on everyone with an account, without consent.
If you do have a Facebook account, check your contact info; chances are your contact email has been replaced with an @Facebook address (information courtesy Forbes.com). At first glance the change seems to be a benign one; it’s done without consent but as long as your experience doesn’t change no harm, no foul- right? Wrong. The service isn’t even true email, as asserted by Forbes.
Taking this sort of liberty with your account and information they gather about you is a very poor precedent. An organization that thinks this little of obtaining your consent (or even notifying you of the change) wouldn’t think much of enacting other changes without it. Then there’s the elephant in the room of data mining- Google does so in their services, but manages to make it fairly unobtrusive and without compromising your sense of privacy. An organization with an already tainted privacy record spurred by the desire to show more income generation for stockholders burned by a very poor IPO likely won’t have the same sensitivity to its users sensibilities.
If you’d like to change your contact information back, just follow the tutorial at the Forbes article. I completely understand a social outlet like Facebook attempting to increase user reliance by offering more services and value, but this latest move is far too devious to be acceptable.