Facebook's E-mail Hijack Is Part of a Pattern of Arrogance

If it wasn't clear before, it should be now: Facebook doesn't think much of you. Or me, or any of its supposed 900 million users. We are products, not customers. The customers are the people who buy the incredibly cheap, often sleazy ads that Facebook sells.

The latest datapoint supporting the fact that Facebook is very much patterned after founder Mark Zuckerberg's nerdy, antisocial worldview: The company has taken it upon itself to, without warning, change the e-mail address on user profiles to so-called Facebook e-mail. This isn't actually e-mail as most people think of it — it's Facebook's internal messaging system.

When you created (or edited) your profile, you decided which e-mail address, if any, you wanted displayed. The default was the address you used to sign up. Facebook's attitude, though, is that it knows better what its users want than users do: Users are just “eyeballs,” perhaps connected to a limbic system, but not to a brain. So it yanked (or soon will yank) whatever e-mail address you had there and replaced it with its own.

While certainly annoying, this isn't that huge a deal, really. (And contrary to some overblow claims, it's certainly not the equivalent of a “man in the middle attack,” which is a hacker tactic for hijacking e-mail). But it's part of a pattern of arrogance and thoughtlessness that goes back to Facebook's beginnings in Zuckerberg's dorm. He didn't treat his own business partners very well — why should we expect him to care about users?

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