Facebook Fail: E-mails lost; contacts changed elsewhere too [Update]

Not cool Facebook; no, not cool.

As if it wasn't enough that the social networking giant had forced @facebook.com e-mail addresses on all its users earlier this week, now users are reporting that their address books are being altered, and e-mails are being lost.

Violet Blue over on c|net is reporting that Facebook users say contacts' e-mail addresses on phones and personal devices have been altered without their consent -- and their e-mail communication is being redirected elsewhere, and lost.

Rachel Luxemburg, an employee of Adobe has reason to be angry, she writes:

Today, a co-worker discovered that his contact info for me had been silently updated to overwrite my work e-mail address with my Facebook e-mail address. He discovered this only after sending work e-mails to the wrong address.

And even worse, the e-mails are not actually in my Facebook messages. I checked.

They've vanished into the ether.

For all I know, I could be missing a lot more e-mails from friends, colleagues, or family members, and never even know it.

Luxemburg adds that despite quickly changing the @facebook e-mail back to the correct e-mail address once she found out about Facebook's change, it's still happening.

When the change was forced through, valid email addresses began to update on address books of phones and computers of other contacts outside of Facebook without the users' awareness or consent.

The horror stories aren't limited either as several other websites have pointed out. For now our best advice is to check your contacts if you sync contact information with Facebook, right now.

Users who wish to reinstate their actual email addresses on their Facebook profile pages can follow these steps: On your profile page, click About, scroll down to the "Contact Info" box and click the Edit button. Hide the @facebook.com email address from your Timeline and replace it with one of your real email addresses.

Update: The email address listed in your "Account Settings" isn't the one that was changed, as other people are assuming. It's the contact email address in your timeline: About > Contact Info section. You will notice that only your @facebook.com email address is visible, others are set to hidden from timeline. An example of this can be seen in the image at the top of this article.

Source: C|net

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49 Comments

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This is a problem with your phone more then facebook. Facebook can do what they want and did. The sync software not handling email address changes is the real issue.

ShiZZa said,
This is a problem with your phone more then facebook. Facebook can do what they want and did. The sync software not handling email address changes is the real issue.

I think what the article is saying is that the contacts were updated as per the change made to their Timeline on Facebook. So the phone syncing was working as expected (being updated to be in sync with the content on Facebook) but this article is just making people aware of it. That's what I gathered, at least.

Titoeuf said,
Don't have a facebook : problem solved!

What if we love Facebook, though, and we'd like an account? Problem not solved.

Many of us love Facebook, but if a problem comes up, it makes sense for us to make a stink out of it so that they don't do it again.

Chica Ami said,
Facebook has problems. Just don't use it, it's that simple. =D

But what if we want to use it and we love it except for this one little problem that might not even occur again? Many of us love Facebook, but if a problem comes up, it makes sense for us to make a stink out of it so that they don't do it again.

good thing i never sync my contacts with facebook, now because i actually denied that function id like to see it update anyway, as that would be illegal i think.

but if people sync'd the info between facebook and their device, giving it permission. then they already agreed to it

Rappy said,
I think someone sent me an email to it before and I never got it

Yep, clearly it's ready for prime time... /sarcasm

This problem just keeps getting worse and worse. I'm usually quick to defend Facebook because they usually deserve defence (due to others' misconceptions), but there's nothing to defend here. Even their reasoning for making this change is silly. Services should respect the settings the user has added, if that setting isn't being removed from the product. Here, Facebook were only expanding on the options available; they could have kept one's personal email address showing on their Timeline if they'd set it to show to certain people or lists.

In regard to the person who believes her emails might have become lost. They might not have been. Did she state whether she checked her Other folder? Facebook directs messages to one's Other folder, if they're sent from an address who isn't a Facebook contact, and one is not notified when the Other folder receives a message (another ridiculous decision Facebook made; I understand why they do that, but they should provide options to allow us to be notified of emails in certain cases).

Strange. On my WP main emails are not being replaced. A facebook email was added only to the contacts for which I have no email information. So no harm done in my case.

Still, stupid effin' facebook.


I meant this as a reply to FarCry3r.

Nimdock said,
Strange. On my WP main emails are not being replaced. A facebook email was added only to the contacts for which I have no email information. So no harm done in my case.

Still, stupid effin' facebook.


I meant this as a reply to FarCry3r.


That is weird. I can confirm that the particular person have their non FB email saved before, but was replaced with FB email after I read this and check it out myself.

I can confirm this is happening on Windows Phone if you have a facebook account. On the People tile, all contacts that is in Facebook will have their emails all changed to *@facebook.com

They won't be able to sync your contacts back I reckon, best you can do is manually change the email address in your timeline contact info.

I would be surprised if they resynced if they ever gave everyone the option to change back!

FarCry3r said,
I can confirm this is happening on Windows Phone if you have a facebook account. On the People tile, all contacts that is in Facebook will have their emails all changed to *@facebook.com

Same thing happened on my Windows Phone. Doesn't seem to have affected everyone's account so I'm guessing some of my contacts went into their account settings and manually fixed Facebook's "mistake."

Figure 8 Dash said,

Same thing happened on my Windows Phone. Doesn't seem to have affected everyone's account so I'm guessing some of my contacts went into their account settings and manually fixed Facebook's "mistake."


If they're aware. Most of them aren't aware of the changes and the friend's list is too big to notify them one by one.

Neobond said,
They won't be able to sync your contacts back I reckon, best you can do is manually change the email address in your timeline contact info.

I would be surprised if they resynced if they ever gave everyone the option to change back!


That'll be lot of hassles then. I had to either dug their email addresses or let them know manually on Facebook. Oh bummer.

It is listed as your primary address in Account Settings, but not in your timeline : About > Contact Info. Please check it, it's very sneaky of them.

Neobond said,
It is listed as your primary address in Account Settings, but not in your timeline : About > Contact Info. Please check it, it's very sneaky of them.

No, you're right. I always had my email address hidden in the past though, so I just hid the @facebook.com one too!

Neobond said,
Well the syncing wasn't immediate and lost emails only came to light one or two days after the fact.

Lost emails are one thing, Contact sync shouldn't have been though.

thommcg said,
Surprised none of the tech media picked up on this at the time when the change was introduced.

Well, CNET is owned by CBS so maybe they'll be running it.

Varemenos said,
The horror is to sync your contacts with facebook in the first place

You don't. You sync your facebook with the mobile/PC contact list. The idea is your facebook contacts keep control over THEIR details so you don't have to keep updating them manually all the time. So if say Kelly from XYZ Office chanced her email address from the ISP to company email address, or changed phone number, you don't have to get pre-told or find out months later when you try to email/call her to find its no longer a valid contact.

It does work.. until facebook pulls stunts like this.

Varemenos said,
The horror is to sync your contacts with facebook in the first place

I think that, on balance, I've had a good experience of Facebook sync.

I'd still rather continue with it than pull out altogether.

Varemenos said,
The horror is to sync your contacts with facebook in the first place

Unless it is fallback sync, where only 'missing' or additional information is altered. Then your concerns are a bit tinfoil hat. This is where personalized or 'overridden' content is given priority over automated content, which is kind of how things should work.

The problem is the Apps and device integration that are NOT doing fallback Sync or offer a full Sync option which users have turned on.

The iPhone and Android Apps BOTH offer full 'Sync' features, which will mangle your stored contacts. And as the article talks about the iOS 6 integration also does full Sync, changing your contact information improperly.

The only 'phone' that is not affected or cannot be forced to affected is WP7. It has full Facebook integration, but contact integration is handled through Live services which does fallback Sync and preserves information.

So with all the Facebook 'default' email flips, WP7 users only got an 'additional' email added to their Facebook synced contacts, and the primary email was not changed.

Varemenos said,
The horror is to sync your contacts with facebook in the first place

Varemenos, people don't expect problems like this because usually, a service should respect the settings you've chosen. Syncing contacts with Facebook has been highly useful for me.

This is what happens when programmers change things without understanding what they are really doing.

They need to do proper regression and beta testing before making major changes like this, because Facebook data affects more than what's on their own website.

Instead they just make a change and see what happens.

I find it amazing that this wasn't even relayed to the users as well? They put alerts up top for little changes but important ones like this get silently implemented.

Simon- said,
This is what happens when programmers change things without understanding what they are really doing.

You think it's the programmers at Facebook who make those kind of decisions???

In many cases, programmers are at the bottom of the food chain. Especially when there is a program manager who hasn't written code in years, but still think he's right. Some lucky programmers may get to voice their professional opinion during meetings, but without word from the top, programmers can't do/not do anything.

On the other hand, most programmers (that I know) are idealist and perfectionist.

Given total control over time/money/resources/specs, many programmers will build a diamond-crusted Eiffel tower when all the customer really wants is an ant hill.

I only just realised that we have @facebook.com email addresses. I'm not sure I can see the point. As my sister pointed out, if someone doesn't have a Facebook account then I would have just given them one of my other email addresses, or some other way of contacting me.

The problem is that if you sync Facebook contacts with your smartphone (and your PC) your Facebook friends email addresses are being changed to the @facebook one, meaning the emails go to Facebook (without an alert) instead of their inbox.

Neobond said,
The problem is that if you sync Facebook contacts with your smartphone (and your PC) your Facebook friends email addresses are being changed to the @facebook one, meaning the emails go to Facebook (without an alert) instead of their inbox.

Clever of Facebook though! Sneaky

Intrinsica said,
I only just realised that we have @facebook.com email addresses. I'm not sure I can see the point. As my sister pointed out, if someone doesn't have a Facebook account then I would have just given them one of my other email addresses, or some other way of contacting me.

Intrinsica, they don't require a Facebook account to email to your Facebook email address. That's one good feature of what Facebook are doing here They just type your Facebook email address into the recipients and it should be sent to your Other folder on Facebook. The problem is, when messages go to your Other folder, you're not notified of that; you have to manually, regularly check the Other folder. It's really ridiculous that Facebook have done that.

Stuff like this is why I'm starting to become frustrated with Facebook. They do whatever they want and it's never for the better...