COMMENTARY | You want to send an email to that friend on Facebook, so you copy and paste their displayed email address into your send to box. Turns out that after last week, you might be sending that friend a Facebook message instead. According to the Associated Press, Facebook has been replacing users' displayed email addresses with @facebook.com addresses that turn traditional emails into Facebook messages.
While many Facebook users will angrily replace the address with their usual one, the small percentage who won't will still lead to a big boost for the social media giant. Google among others will suffer if users don't revert to their primary address, giving Facebook a victory in the Internet turf wars. After a few weeks of receiving most of their personal emails as Facebook messages, young users might be hooked for years. Brilliant.
By giving users the easy option to revert to their original selection, Facebook scores by not appearing too heavy-handed. Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg and crew can raise their hands in hasty apology and say "Whoa, we were just trying to make things easier. See, you can go in and change it back, OK?" For each Facebook user who doesn't change their displayed email back to its original selection, Zuckerberg scores a minor victory.
Others can hardly respond in kind for their email services do not link to Facebook the way Facebook links to those email services. Facebook has hit on a tactic that cannot be emulated by its Internet competitors. And should this initial salvo in the war of Internet control prove unsuccessful, Zuckerberg and crew can try something similar in a year or so.
Facebook links to other things more than other things link to Facebook, so the advantage in the foreseeable future will remain with Facebook. Whenever the social networking giant changes its setup so it reroutes more external functions back to its internal functions, it gains a bit more Internet traffic.
Your serve, Google.