June 25, 2012 at 3:12 PM ET
You may have heard (or read) that Facebook just changed your email address without even asking you — and in a way it did — but the whole thing's not quite as scary or dramatic as it might sound. And you can easily fix things with a few clicks.
Kashmir Hill of Forbes' Not-So Private Parts blog was among the first to report on the change. She labeled the whole thing as "Facebook's lame attempt to force its email service on you."
This all sounds scary! What happened?
You see, what happened is that the email address — or in some cases, addresses — displayed on your Facebook profile was changed from whatever it was to your Facebook email address. (Your Facebook email address consists of whatever is at the end of your Facebook URL slapped in front of @facebook.com. For example: My Facebook URL is http://facebook.com/rosa, so my Facebook email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.)
For most people, this is pretty darn annoying as all the mail they receive at the Facebook email address winds up in their regular Facebook inbox. Based on a quick survey of friends and colleagues, it seems that this is inconvenient to a majority, as they prefer to receive their email in ... you know, their actual email inboxes.
Now that you understand the somewhat bad news better, here are two good pieces of news: Facebook didn't alter the default address on your account, meaning that the social network's whacky system only altered what is visible on your profile. And you can change your profile back to normal pretty easily.
Whew! So how do I fix this?
All you have to do is open up your profile page (hit the "About" button under your personal info), scroll down to the "Contact Info" box, and hit the "Edit" button. There you can toggle who can see which email address and whether it is displayed on your Timeline or not.
If you're not a fan of receiving your email in your Facebook inbox, I suggest hiding that address and simply making the one you favor visible.
Why did this all happen?
We reached out to Facebook in an attempt to figure out what happened and why the email addresses on people's profiles were suddenly changed. A spokesperson for the social network offered the following response:
As we announced back in April, we’ve been updating addresses on Facebook to make them consistent across our site.
In addition to everyone receiving an address, we’re also rolling out a new setting that gives people the choice to decide which addresses they want to show on their timelines.
Ever since the launch of timeline, people have had the ability to control what posts they want to show or hide on their own timelines, and today we’re extending that to other information they post, starting with the Facebook address.
The spokesperson did not explain why users did not receive any sort of notice when their profiles started displaying a different email address, even though we made sure to ask about that.
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