Facebook is retiring its email service and has begun notifying users that all email sent to their @facebook.com address will soon be forwarded to their primary email address on file. Facebook users can turn off the forwarding feature, which is on by default. Users without a primary email address on Facebook won't receive forwarded messages, but it's pretty unlikely that they're missing anything. "Most people have not been using their @facebook.com email address," said a Facebook spokesperson, who confirmed that the update effectively retires the social network's email service.
Facebook launched its email service back in November 2010 in hopes of providing one inbox where users could send and receive emails and messages. "It seems wrong that an email message from your best friend gets sandwiched between a bill and a bank statement," the company wrote in its announcement blog post for the feature. The service didn't catch on, perhaps in part because Facebook never truly created a friendly or familiar interface for emailing. The Messages screen always prioritized Facebook messages, and didn't even support cc's, bcc's, or subject lines.
Facebook's email feature caused more trouble than it was worth for the social network
The email feature, rarely updated, has in fact caused more trouble than it's been worth for Facebook. In June 2012, Facebook highlighted @facebook.com email addresses on profiles while hiding other email addresses. The move was intended to return user profiles to a blank slate where email addresses were private, but the outcome was that people thought Facebook was favoring its own email services over others.
Today's update brings another odd and unfortunate side effect for Facebook: you can now reach someone's primary email inbox by emailing their @facebook.com email address. These email addresses are by default only accessible to friends, but you can easily figure out somebody's @facebook.com email address by finding their profile page's URL and pasting it before the @ symbol. Fortunately, Facebook lets you turn off forwarding altogether, effectively destroying its email service once and for all.