The Facebook application was caught red-handed shuffling through smartphone ownersâ€™ address books to change contactsâ€™ e-mail addresses with those provided by the social networking platform.
All the listed contacts with a corresponding Facebook account will automatically be attributed a @facebook.com e-mail address to replace existing ones. This way all the messages a smartphone user sends to their contacts will be actually sent to the e-mail provided by popular social network Facebook.
In some cases the @facebook.com address is added as an alternative to a contact, but there have also been cases in which the original typed-in address is overwritten and the user loses the primarily one. On top of that, the moment the contact list on an iOS or an Android is updated with a new entry, the app immediately links that contact to the e-mail address on his or her Facebook account.
Some reports say some contacts have been duplicated whereas others disappeared from smartphones that have installed the Facebook app.
How does this affect you as a user?
Facebook has been accused in the past of aggressively promoting their e-mail messaging service to snatch market share from arch-rivals such as Gmail or Yahoo Mail. The war that started by swapping the declared e-mail address with the one provided by Facebook on usersâ€™ Facebook profiles has now reached the holy smartphone ground.
The fact that the owner of the device and the Facebook account havenâ€™t acknowledged or used the Facebook e-mails address for message exchange makes this replacement dangerous and in an at-least grey legal area. It may seem harmless at first glance, but the implications run deeper.
Letâ€™s say someone uses the smartphone to send a work-related e-mail and the sensitive information reached the Facebook account instead of the official company e-mail account. This will not only likely violate the security policies of the senderâ€™s company, but will also lead to delays: after all, the recipient is looking for the message at a totally different address and Facebook might even be banned at the workplace, so they may not be able to retrieve it in due time.
Â Or perhaps someone forgets their Facebook credentials or chooses not to use the service for a week which makes it impossible to receive the work-related e-mails that have been silently hijacked towards their social network account.
Last, but not least, there is data loss issue. All the overwritten addresses are irrecoverably lost from the contact list. In a world where most users rely on their smartphones and their stored contact info to get things done in due time, this is a loss of unimaginable proportions.
So, maybe we should let people choose what service they want to use and when.
Facebook, what gives?