As a social media consultant I spend a lot of time advising businesses on how to get maximum benefit from Facebook – and it really is, or should be, a key part of your marketing strategy. To do this I have to stay on top of the deluge of changes that Facebook issue every week, and just occasionally I need to warn people of the unintended consequences of Facebook’s actions. This week has provided a vivid example of that.
Back in April when Timeline was being rolled out Facebook gave everyone an email address – mine is firstname.lastname@example.org. So what? Not many people chose to use Facebook as an email platform so even if they were aware of this they ignored it.
This week, without notification, Facebook decided to replace the individual email addresses of all 900 Million users with their facebook.com address. That means that if someone checks your personal profile to contact you via email, the email will be intercepted and turned into a Facebook message. Personally, if I want to send someone a Facebook message I will use the message function – if I wanted a private email exchange I would not use Facebook messages for it.
Reaction from users has been almost unanimously horrified – this story from the BBC News website is typical: BBC News. Sophos have reacted by saying that this change raises serious security issues: Sophos
So, how do you reclaim your personal email? The process is simple, just follow these steps:
Firstly, on your personal profile, click on Update Info below and to the right of your cover photo:
Next, locate the Contact Info box:
You will note that it shows my facebook.com email address
Click on Edit and it shows your email addresses:
You will see that the facebook.com email address has an open circle to the right of it, whereas my other email addresses have a line through the circle. This means that the facebook.com address shows on Timeline, the others are hidden.
On the pull-down arrows next to the circle, select “Hidden from Timeline” next to the facebook.com address
and then against the email address you want to show publicly, select “Shown on Timeline”:
Click “Save Changes” and you’re done.
If an outside agency intercepted your private email in what is called in hacking circles a “Man In The Middle” attack it would be viewed as criminal behaviour. Let’s be generous to Facebook and say that this move comes from arrogance rather than malign intent – but now that they are a public company they have institutional investors to worry about, and it’s unlikely that those investors will be too happy with Mark Zuckerberg over this bad publicity. Maybe they will learn a lesson from here on?
This post was first published on The Social Media Bureau blog