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Facebook Screws With Our Profiles -- Again!

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Watch out, Google (GOOG). Remember back in 2010 when Facebook (FB) promised a “Gmail killer” with its personalized email addresses? Well, they really mean it this time!

Zuckerberg’s much-ballyhooed Titan messaging service that streamlined texting, instant messaging, and email into a single inbox didn’t exactly send shockwaves through our modern day communication structure. It barely registered as a blip. And there was good reason for it.

As ReadWriteWeb’s Dave Copeland put it:

“Facebook’s messaging system is awful. It’s clunky and filters messages from strangers into a ‘shadow’ inbox that is easy to miss. It can’t be searched the way Gmail can, nor can message be filtered, sorted or saved. If you never got around to setting a personalized vanity address for your Facebook profile, your Facebook email address is a random string of numbers @facebook.com.”

It appears the new thinking about messaging that’s coming out of the social network isn’t of the wheel-reinventing variety but a more of a back-to-basics approach. Of course, knowing Facebook, it couldn’t be expected to launch without some element of surreptitiousness.

Perhaps aware its users wouldn’t willingly opt in for it, Facebook took it upon itself this past Friday to go into 900 million profile settings and change everyone’s contact email to an @facebook.com address.

And, yes, without asking.

Facebook users presumably have reasons for composing their profiles’ details a certain way. For example, professionals who use the site have specific email addresses at which they want to be contacted. Now Facebook has assured that all email communications will be routed back to its own messaging inboxes.

Blogger Gervase Markham referred to this as a “Man In The Middle (MITM) attack.”

“Facebook silently inserted themselves into the path of formerly direct unencrypted communications from people who want to email me," he wrote upon discovering the change on Saturday.

How many of us even know how to access our Facebook email? I certainly don’t. If business people aren’t aware of this change, they are at risk for missing communication because, not only has their default email become a Facebook one, their old primary address is now hidden.

And even if Facebook was to send out an alert that notifies users of the change, how many of us would be likely to mistake it for spam?

(See also: Facebook's Stalker App Is Here and Facebook's Ad Strategy Suffers Justifiable Blow)
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