Facebook ditches its little-known e-mail addresses


If you’re on Facebook, you’re about to lose your facebook.com e-mail address. And if you didn’t know you had one, well, that’s the main reason it’s going.

Since November 2010, Facebook users have had an e-mail address made up of their profile name and @facebook.com. That in itself was confusing as the profile name is not necessarily the same as your username (which is anything of your choice) or your actual name (which may be the same as many other people.)

Instead it’s the name that appears at the end of the URL on your profile page, a unique name that was at one point known as a “vanity URL.”

To add to the confusion, the facebook.com address wasn’t a full-blown e-mail service. Instead it was simply an address which could receive e-mail and then display it in the Facebook messaging system as if you’d received it as a Facebook message.

The actual point of the service seemed a bit of a mystery. You could give out your Facebook.com address as a way for people to send messages to you on Facebook without hunting down your profile, but then you might as well give them your actual e-mail address.

Those of a cynical nature would note the main practical change was that Facebook would, technically at least, have access to the content of the e-mails you received this way.

Unfortunately for Facebook, the most publicity for the service came in 2012 when things went very wrong. A software bug meant that some people who’d synced their Facebook account to their contacts list on their smartphone found the “real” e-mail address for some of their friends had been replaced with the Facebook.com address.

To its credit, Facebook isn’t spouting any marketing jargon or flimflam about why it is ditching the service. It’s issued a simple media statement explaining that “Most people have not been using their @facebook.com email address.”

Once the service closes in March, the default will be that any messages received at your facebook.com address will be forwarded to the primary email address listed on your account. If you don’t want this to happen, you’ll be able to switch off the forwarding in your account settings.