July 2, 2012 at 6:53 PM ET
No, Facebook is not taking over your phone. Facebook email problems lit up the headlines Monday morning with reports of email addresses overwritten by Facebook in users' phones, duplicate contacts in mobile address books and emails that had vanished altogether.
Some people have experienced a "hijacking" of their contacts' addresses on mobile devices, where contacts' email addresses have been replaced with "@facebook.com" (addresses that Facebook issues to users) or entries have been duplicated with a Facebook address.
But the problem appears to be very limited. Further, disappearing emails have a simple explanation that illuminates the flaws in Facebook's thinking about messaging, but not a major programming malfunction. And there is an easy — albeit annoying — fix for that.
Developers who installed beta iOS 6 to test on iPhones and iPads are most likely to experience the contact problems, but that's what beta testing is all about — dealing with bugs. Apple and Facebook will likely fix this and many other problems by the time iOS 6 is released — probably this fall.
Further, a Facebook spokeswoman, told TechNewsDaily that 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," she said.
A spot test of Android contacts did not reveal any problems. Android has long had Facebook integration.
As a precaution, check your contacts. Look for any @Facebook.com email addresses that have been added. If you now have duplicate entries, that's an inconvenience but you can still send email with the original email addresses. If your contact's email has been replaced with a Facebook.com address, you'd be wise to re-enter the old emails.
The other problem is using a Facebook.com address that can lead to so-called vanishing emails, but the messages aren't really gone, they're just hiding.
"This may actually just be confusion around the Messages Inbox," the spokeswoman said. "By default, messages from friends or friends of friends go into your Inbox. Everything else goes to your Other folder."
And where is this mysterious "Other" folder? It's in your regular Facebook application, hidden inside a drop-down menu from "Messages" on your homepage.
There are no notifications for Other messages, and this folder is not included in Facebook Mobile or Facebook Messenger. The Other folder was designed to hold less important messages and even spam, which seems like a good idea, but it has its flaws.
The feature became problematic when Facebook introduced its universal address policy, assigning each member an @facebook.com email address. Your outside email address was no longer displayed on your Timeline.
Before the change, an email from someone who looked for your address on Facebook would have sent it to whatever service you listed, such as Gmail. Now it winds up in the mystery box without a notification.
But you can change that — here's how. [Facebook Moves Toward Universal Email, How to Edit] Now that Facebook has transitioned to its universal address policy, you should make it a habit to check your Other folder. Just like the Junk Email file in your regular service, an important message could find its way there.
Copyright 2012 TechNewsDaily, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Copyright 2013 TechNewsDaily, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.