Facebook is facing fresh accusations of mishandling personal data after it emerged that the social network was ascribing each user an @facebook.com email address – and automatically displaying them as default email addresses whether in use or not.
The update has been phased in over the past couple of weeks, without fanfare, with most users only realising something was afoot following a wave of disgruntled blog posts and news critical news articles.
Blogger Gervase Markham, was one of the first to pick up on the surreptitious change, writing: "Facebook silently inserted themselves into the path of formerly-direct unencrypted communications from people who want to email me.
“In other contexts, this is known as a Man In The Middle (MITM) attack," he wrote, referring to a tactic hackers use to intercept electronic messages. "What on earth do they think they are playing at?"
Meredith Chin, Facebook's manager of product communications, explained the move to CNNMoney saying: “We basically defaulted to show your Facebook address as we rolled this out, just to keep it consistent for everyone.”
Chin added that users are free to change their email default settings at any time.