Apple iOS 6 and the Facebook email address lock-in?

Summary:Just after Apple announced iOS 6 Facebook integration and contact sync Facebook forced new email addresses on its users. Is this a lock-in?

Facebook pissed off more users than usual when people became aware this week that it is forcing new email addresses on its users, and made those addresses public and default.

With the way it has been implemented, those who combine Facebook with Apple's iOS 6 may find themselves in an email lock-in if they aren't vigilant.

On the surface what Facebook did was change everyone's public profile settings to show a new @Facebook email address which nobody wanted or asked for.

Facebook users that had no public email address now display one, and users that had a preferred public email chosen in their settings now have to accept or revert the change.

Beneath the hood, Facebook users will now want to check any Facebook-synched address books as well.

Across the internet Facebook users are so mad that few people are talking about the fact the change now allows them to send email from their Facebook account (something that was previously unsupported).

The general feeling of nonconsent, invasiveness and motive suspicion is double for Apple users that welcome iOS 6 and its Facebook integration into their lives and address books/contacts with open arms.

"(...) And your Facebook friendsâ?? profile information is integrated into Contacts, so when they update an email address or phone number you automatically stay up to date."

If it all goes as is suggested, the Facebook-Apple integration will probably be so seamless, users will be pressed to notice their address book or personal contact information has changed at all.

Facebook's reach has gone into people's address books on their phones. Some Facebook app users are reporting that their contacts on their phones have been changed without their consent, and perfectly good email addresses for their Facebook friends have been changed.

Apple's new Facebook integration claims to make this kind of invasion into standard operating practices when people use iOS 6 and Facebook together.

Yes, some people will find it helpful to have contacts updated automatically.

If that's, you know, what people want.

Lock-in: literally

Headline outrage about Facebook's forced email change read like headlines from The Onion (Users Angry At Facebook For Doing Unwanted Stuff To Their Online Lives No One Was Warned About).

Either way, it's easy for many of us to give this mess a standard, reserved-for-Facebook eye-roll.

I did: I caught the email address change to my profile last Thursday. I had my profile set to showing NO public email address, and Facebook had placed one there - its own - without my consent.

But admittedly, I thought I'd just lost track of the Facebook messing-with-your-stuff circus and didn't mention it to anyone.

Except I hadn't, and this time it's really bad.

Redditor homolconic explains why:

This isn’t a big deal because Aunt Millie will look up your email address on your FB profile and start sending church social invitations to your FB inbox.

This is a big deal because everyone who has a mobile device or other software that synchronizes their address book with their FB contacts is in danger of blowing away the perfectly good email address they had for you and replacing it with your FB email address.

What specifically happens depends on how the sync software is written, of course. It may keep old ones it had, it may simply add the new one, it may change the default email address, or it may throw the old ones away.

I personally believe this is the purpose of the update: To silently worm FB email addresses out beyond FB through mobile apps that synchronize FB. And that is a big deal.

Do you sync your contacts with Facebook? Do you want to?

Many sites right now helpfully advise Facebook users how to go into settings and change their email addresses back to the way users had set up their preferred form of public contact information.

Yet with an added component of potential address book meddling, and our era of apps and app user permission fiascos, reverting your settings isn’t going to be enough if you want to protect yourself.

If you have any software, apps that sync your contacts or address books with Facebook (think home computer, devices, phones, iOS 6) check your settings. Now.

And stay on top of it.

As I said in the Facebook debate, The Social Web: Who Owns Your Data:

What was it that Thomas Jefferson said?

The price of Facebook is eternal vigilance!

If Apple didn't know about Facebook's mass-forced email change when they announced the Apple-Facebook partnership at WWDC two weeks ago, then I suspect Apple is not feeling very pleased about this mess.

Topics: Apple, Collaboration, Social Enterprise

About

Ms. Violet Blue (tinynibbles.com, @violetblue) is a freelance investigative reporter on hacking and cybercrime at Zero Day/ZDNet, CNET and CBS News, as well as a noted sex columnist. She has made regular appearances on CNN and The Oprah Winfrey Show and is regularly interviewed, quoted, and featured in a variety of publications that inclu... Full Bio

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