Remember when Facebook changed all of our default email accounts to their own, unused system, without informing any of us? That was fun! But it looks like the problem could be much wider and more damaging than it first seemed.
CNET reports a multitude of user complaints after the big obnoxious switch-over, citing claims that Facebook is “changing their address books while intercepting and losing unknown amounts of email”. Some Facebookers are seeing messages (inadvertently) sent to their @facebook accounts vanishing into nothing, while others have noticed every email address in their phone overwritten by Facebook:
This morning my mother was complaining that many of the email addresses in her Droid Razr contacts had been replaced with Facebook ones. It would seem the Facebook app had been populating her address book with emails and contact photos, and decided to migrate all her Facebook-using contacts over to this convenient new system. That seems like a much greater controversy to me than Facebook hiding people’s email addresses.
Those things both suck and are a bigger attention-grab than merely changing a default inbox. It’s much harder to reverse too — if Facebook wiped out all of your friends’ email addresses, tracking them down and entering them all over again would be a serious travail. There’s an enormous difference between having an annoying email account you don’t want put on your Facebook profile, and having that annoying email address permanently erase other email addresses.
Personally, I’ve noticed some Facebook strangeness on my iPhone’s contact list. For many of my friends (there doesn’t seem to be a pattern), there’s now a second, duplicate contact with nothing but Facebook information (usually just their Facebook email address). This is annoying in that there are now doubles for a lot of people I talk to, but when I try dialling their number, I get the bizarre caller ID text above. Whether this is an iOS 6 Facebook integration quirk, a Facebook screwup, or some sort of screwup collaboration between Apple and Facebook remains to be seen. We’ve reached out to Facebook for a comment on all this and will let you know if Emailgate is really as bad as it looks. In the meantime, the only defence you’ve got is preventive — deleting Facebook from your phone and turning off Facebook integration is probably the only way to avoid this fate. [CNET]
Update: Gizmodo reader Daniel’s problem suggets iOS 6 is making Facebook’s email blitz even worse:
I recently updated my iPhone to iOS 6 beta, which has Facebook integration. Since Facebook changed the email addresses on contacts, I’ve actually lost every single one of my email addresses including those for work. Emails to my boss have gone unanswered as they’ve been going to his Facebook! Driven me insane and absolutely horrid move for Facebook. Very much regretting wishing for this whole Facebook integration thing now!
Granted, it’s still beta software.
Update 2: Facebook knows this is a problem. A company rep told ReadWriteWeb the following today:
“Regarding the phone syncing issue, I’m having the engineers look into it and will get back to you as soon as I can with more details,” Chin said in an email early Monday morning.