Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What's Going On With The Facebook Email Address?

Even if you're just a casual Facebook user, you no doubt know by now that there has been a fairly big uproar over Facebook changing the default e-mail addresses of all of its digital residents to addresses. This change was made without warning or permission. Sure, it's easy enough to change back, but it made a number of security experts decry the move as dangerous and made a lot of Facebook's user base feel violated.

You might ask what the big deal is. Doesn't this seem like a fairly minor violation? With all due respect to the millions who had their email addresses misrepresented by a website they pay nothing for, it takes only two minutes to switch it back. Had it not been picked up by the media, certainly 99% of all Facebook users wouldn't have noticed the change. Furthermore, Facebook has said that the change was made in an attempt to protect user privacy and keep everyone's primary e-mail address hidden from potential spammers/stalkers. At times, it does seem like, no matter what changes it makes, Facebook cannot win and there does seem to be an unspoken agreement amongst the users to get upset by any and all changes.

I hate to sound like a tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorist here, but I'm actually thinking that Facebook knew precisely what it was doing with this email thing, and the reasoning behind it is something far more nefarious than a mere discourteous cosmetic change. In my opinion, Facebook wants to control your smartphone's address book. These days, most smartphones have the ability to seamlessly integrate with Facebook. You can merge your phone contacts with your Facebook contacts, which will populate your phone contacts with the e-mail address listed in your contact's Facebook profile. Guess which e-mail address my phone defaults to using if I choose to e-mail a Facebook contact that was merged to my phone? That's right. The default Facebook address, which, unless the user in question has changed it, is the address. It certainly seems as if Facebook initiated this change in an attempt to capture correspondance for further data mining purposes and was hoping that few people would notice it and that it wouldn't be that big of a deal.

Ever since it went public last month, Facebook's motives have changed. Instead of advocating for its users and its community, Facebook now sees its users in terms of potential revenue. We have gone from being the consumer to being the product. Facebook is no longer a social network, it's a business model that can have an adverse impact on your career, your social life and even your privacy. It's not fun anymore. Yet, everyone is on it, so there's really nowhere else to go. And to complain about it would be like a herd of cattle complaining that the rancher is mistreating them.

Everyone is on it, yet nobody likes it. And this latest e-mail debacle is just yet another reason why.


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