Did you know anyone could now send email into your inbox via your Facebook username?
Did you know you had a Facebook.com email address? If you're on the social network, you did from 2010 until now. Facebook decided to mothball the service Monday, citing low user numbers.
But what Facebook is doing instead may cause more trouble than the company anticipates. That's because any Facebook.com email will now be rerouted to the email address you gave Facebook when you signed up.
In other words, any one of Facebook's 1.3 billion active users can now email you directly, simply by sending a message to [your username]@facebook.com — whether or not you've listed your email on your profile page, or made your profile page public.
It isn't quite as bad as it sounds, however. "We limit the number of messages a person can receive in their inbox from people they're not connected to," a Facebook spokesperson told Mashable. "We also have systems in place to detect spam, and will not forward messages that we think are spam. The external email provider will also do their own spam checks.
"People also have the ability to turn off forwarding once we roll this out in a few weeks."
If that still sounds worrying but vaguely familiar, it may be because Google did something similar with Google+. Last month, the search giant announced that anyone on Google+ could email your Gmail account without knowing your actual Gmail address, a move that attracted a firestorm of criticism. (In that case, too, there was a limit on the number of messages a user could send.)
There was also a controversial incident in 2012, when Facebook briefly changed the email address listed on a user's profile page to his or her Facebook.com address — without asking for the user's consent.
In this latest case, rerouting Facebook.com email won't end the problem of your "other" inbox, where messages from people you're not friends with go to die (even the useful ones). That may be the silver lining in all this: If a Facebook user has a truly urgent message for you, they now have a way to send it to your attention without relying on the other inbox.
Whether that benefit will be outweighed by a torrent of spam remains to be seen. Either way, ironically, your Facebook.com email address may be about to get more use now that it's inactive than it did in the last four years.