Facebook email aftermath continues, as the app overwrites address books and loses messages

facebook email address controversyIt’s time for round two of a Facebook-email related dilemma. You’ll recall that last week the social network went ahead and switched your default contact email to that @facebook.com address you probably didn’t even know you had. The very quiet manner in which Facebook did this came off as sneaky, while the feature itself is hardly anything to get up in arms about.

At least that’s how things appeared last week. Unfortunately, things have taken a turn for the worse and users are complaining that the new email address has taken over their phone contact lists and, in the process, misdirected sent and received emails.

Those that have connected their Facebook to their phone have given Facebook permission (perhaps unwittingly, as we learned from Addressgate) to place Facebook info with the corresponding phone contact. This information includes the listed email address – thus, many people now are listed in phone address books as being reachable @facebook.com. Meaning plenty of emails could have been sent to these addresses since the switch.

The kicker is that instead of emails finding their way to Facebook Messages, they are nowhere to be found, somehow lost into the void.

Cnet first noticed the error, as did Adobe’s Rachel Luxemburg. On Friday, she wrote, “Today, a co-worker discovered that his contact info for me had been silently updated to overwrite my work email address with my Facebook email address. He discovered this only after sending work emails to the wrong address.”

“And even worse, the emails 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 emails from friends, colleagues, or family members, and never even know it.”

It’s just one of the handful of stories from angry users since the @facebook.com email takeover, and if you’ve been affected you have a few options. First of all, you should disconnect Facebook from your phone so it doesn’t happen again. And if you haven’t already changed your default email address back to what it’s supposed to be, then be sure to do that next.

Lastly, if you think you could have been one of the unlucky who lost emails, check the “Other” inbox under Facebook Messages. It’s often overlooked or completely unnoticed – but you simply hit “Messages” on the left hand sidebar and underneath the “Other” inbox should appear. They may or may not be in there, but it’s worth checking out. 

I quickly tested this out, sending myself a message at the Facebook email address from my Gmail account. The Messages inbox and alert icon on Facebook didn’t show anything (the 16 messages are old and already there). 

gmail send
no messages

But then clicking other, lo and behold… 

the other inbox

UPDATE:

I reached out to Facebook and received the following statement: 

“Regarding the ’email loss’ this may actually just be confusion around the Messages Inbox: By default, messages from friends or friends of friends go into your Inbox. Everything else goes to your Other folder. (If you click on Messages in your left hand navigation menu, you’ll see below it an Other folder that drops down.) That is likely where the messages are being sent from other people’s emails. Even if that person is friends with them on Facebook, if the friend doesn’t have that email on their Facebook account, the message could end up in the Other folder. Regarding the phone syncing issue, we’re looking into this will get back to you as soon as I can with more details.”

SECOND UPDATE: 

I’ve received another follow up from Facebook that address address book syncing as well as Messages. The following is a statement from the site: 

Contact Synchronization: 

 Contact synchronization on devices is performed through an API. For most devices, we’ve verified that the API is working correctly and pulling the primary email address associated with the users’ Facebook account. However, for people on certain devices, a bug meant that the device was pulling the last email address added to the account rather than the primary email address, resulting in @facebook.com addresses being pulled. We are in the process of fixing this issue and it will be resolved soon. After that, those specific devices should pull the correct addresses. 

Facebook Messaging:

Facebook Messages is designed to give people control over who they receive messages from. In account settings, people can specify whether they want to receive messages from Friends, Friend of Friends, or Everyone. 

If someone sends you an email to your @facebook.com email address and it’s from an address associated with a Facebook friend or friend of friend’s accounts, it will go into the inbox. If it’s from an address not associated with a friend or friend of friend’s Facebook account, it will go into your other folder. 

However, if you’ve specified in privacy settings that you only want to receive messages from friends or friend of friends, then the message will bounce. 

We’ve noticed that in a very limited number of cases, the bounce e-mail back to the original sender may not be delivered because it may get intercepted by spam filters. 

We are working to make sure that e-mail senders consistently receive bounce messages.

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