Facebook repeats Google’s mistake

By Subraya Mallya - December 2010 | Topics - Cloud Computing

Today when I logged into Facebook to accept an invite from an old friend, I was surprised by an invitation from Facebook to accept their email. I am told they are still in the “Invite Only” phase of granting email address.

They had already generated an email address for me. I tried to see if I could change it to something else but I could not change it from all the options, I saw. Why would you bother changing an email you ask?  Here is why

For all the smarts that Google and Facebook teams have (and I do think they collectively have the smartest population in the world),  they both keep repeating the same mistakes.

When Google introduced profile pages, they generated a URL for us. It was pretty much http://www.google.com/profiles/<your_email_id>. The problem with this is, it exposes our email addresses to the entire world. Given that the profile pages are public, going by their intent, having the URL include your email id is stupid.

Now Facebook in introducing email service seems to be doing the same mistake. Auto-generating an email with the same id as the publicly visible (not changeable) profile name that they gave us.

This is like giving spammers an open invitation to spam everyone whose public profile they can see.

C’mon guys – Your excellent spam protection, notwithstanding, we still get a lot of spam and not to mention email address is still a big part of our identity.

Of course, they can always turnaround and say – “We are not forcing anyone to signup for our services. They are voluntary”.

Or fix this and provide an option to chose an alternate profile name, in case of Google (the cryptic email address as part of URL looked stupid anyway) and an alternate email in case of Facebook.

And …. as you might have already guessed this might just… reduce the spam you need to handle on your email servers.

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