According to a series of blog posts on Monday, Facebook has drawn controversy to itself again by making @facebook.com email addresses the default on users' profiles. The world's largest social network began rolling out the change to its 900 million users several weeks ago, but the issue boiled up Monday after several bloggers brought attention to it. A number of bloggers likened Facebook's change to a so-called Man In the Middle attack, or MITM, a tactic used by hackers to intercept emails.
Essentially, every Facebook user is automatically assigned an email address when they sign up with Facebook, and it stays active even if they don't use it. This email address, consisting of the username with @facebook.com, is now being posted as the default email address on the profile pages, even if the user has a different email address set as the default. Since users do not view their profiles every time they log-in, it can be days or even weeks before users would have even noticed the change.
Meredith Chin, a Facebook executive, explained the move as part of the set-up process for the new Timeline profile feature, saying the change was done to keep the process “consistent,” a word she repeated multiple times while addressing the media on Monday. Chin went on to explain that users can go in and restore their old default email addresses, but the default is being switched to maintain a similar experience for all users. The problem, bloggers say, is that many users will never receive some messages because they never use the Facebook email address.
The @facebook.com email debacle is not the first time Facebook has drawn the ire of tech bloggers and its users by making changes without notice, as the company has gained something of a reputation for it. Facebook users who wish to opt out of the new move can go to the Contact Info section of their profile set-up page and switch the setting for the @facebook email to “hidden from Timeline” and switch the setting for their preferred email to “shown on Timeline.” Chin said that if there continues to be confusion about the change, the company will post an official blog entry to clear it up.