Facebook wants to sell your email inbox. Happy Thanksgiving.

Facebook wants to gobble gobble all of your privacy. Photo by Peter Smith
There’s no reason I should be writing this on Turkey Day, but I was taking a news-reading break, and this particular update is one of those “Facebook is about to make you mad” stories, so I couldn’t resist.

Facebook wants to let anyone email you at your @facebook.com address, Reuters reports (the Facebook announcement is here). The method to this madness: they want to kill off the ability for users to control who gets to contact them using the Facebook email system. Instead, users will get new tools for filtering messages. The obvious question is then, “So is a bunch of junk/ads/nonsense going to show up in my Facebook email?”

Well, yes. What reason is there to think otherwise? A publicly traded company has to keep demonstrating it can make more money. And the Facebook spokesman didn’t have a real response to the query. Instead, he said, as paraphrased by the Reuters reporter Alexei Oreskovic, “the company carefully monitors user interaction and feedback to find ways to enhance the user experience.”

Haha, good one.

As far as I can tell, this is Facebook trying to create another ad space to sell. This one happens to be in your Facebook email inbox. Businesses no doubt would like that. Marketing guy says, “I can get my message directly to the inboxes of millions of people? And they don’t even have to let me? You can just throw it in there, and then make them filter it out, which they’ll never take the time to do? Really? Can Google do this, too?” Oh, I guess Google can, but it’s just those ignorable tiny ads on the side. I don’t actually get emails that are ads directly sent to my inbox.

And if you take a look at what Facebook did, back in June 2012 (I think), to your default contact info settings for email, then the attempt to monetize your @facebook.com email inbox makes even more sense. If you don’t want to follow the link, here’s the gist: Facebook made your @facebook.com email address your default one. That means it got automatically turned into the only one that showed up on your profile info. The email you actually use got tucked away. So the end result is, if you weren’t watching your account (which I wasn’t), that you might see yourself inadvertently getting sucked into using Facebook’s email system.

Haha, good one.

The endgame here is Facebook removing as much control from its users as possible, without compelling them to quit the service. With so many people locked into the social network, it’s hard to depart. But not impossible. After all, the Internet was born as a social network, so it’s not like you become unreachable if you depart Facebook’s particular way of packaging all the interactivity that defines the Internet. If you are tired of playing Privacy Pong with Facebook (I’m getting close), you can delete your acccount here.

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