Mike Isaac

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Facebook Explains Email Snafus, Promises Bug Fix

Trying to make good on a bungled switch to make its sidelined email system more visible for users, Facebook is scrambling to explain itself to a frustrated user base.

After a flurry of user confusion and uproar last week due to Facebook abruptly changing users’ default email settings to display @facebook addresses on individual profiles, Facebook once again faced public ire on Monday morning after many users discovered that primary email contacts in their cellphone address book were switched to display @facebook addresses. What’s more, many from both camps complained that they weren’t receiving some emails at all.

To combat the confusion, Facebook is trying to elucidate in plain English why we’re the ones doing it wrong, sending to members of the press detailed explanations on exactly how Facebook Messages is designed to work.

“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,” a Facebook spokeswoman told me in an email. “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.”

That has been the main point of contention thus far: It was bad enough that Facebook planned an email switch-up, but now some users weren’t getting important emails at all.

“We’ve noticed that in a very limited number of cases, the bounce email back to the original sender may not be delivered because it may get intercepted by spam filters,” the spokeswoman said.

And after some mobile users began noticing their phone email contacts switching, things got downright ugly. Facebook swears this last part was a mistake, and expects to remedy it by tomorrow.

“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,” the spokeswoman said. Those devices, we’ve seen, were primarily older Android phones. “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.”

Could Facebook have handled this any worse? Probably, though unless another unfortunately timed bug comes up in the near future, I expect it’ll all blow over by the end of the week.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work