Facebook Gives Away Its Brand To 500 Million Users Who Could Care Less About Their Email Address

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg being interviewed by Financial Times, TechCrunch and ScobleizerSo by now we all know that Facebook has begun rolling out a new way of handling communication and messaging to its users. I think it’s a pretty interesting move on the part of the social network and how they’re continuing to build upon its platform to help create a self-contained World Wide Web within the Internet – a bit like Inception to me. Nevertheless, my qualms here are with Facebook giving away something very precious to their users instead of keeping it for themselves…their email address.

Brand your customers, but leave employees unrecognizable

I suppose this had to happen. In fact, it was almost inevitable when you roll out your email addresses. Just look at what happened with Yahoo…they gave away the yahoo.com email address and now their employees are at yahoo-inc.com, which is probably a very odd address to have. Yes, a bit different from what Facebook is encountering right now because Yahoo was known more as an email provider than Facebook is now. However, the point is the same. I think that Facebook should not have surrendered their brand to the customers.

It’s been reported in the Sillicon Alley Insider that the social network giant will be migrating their employees away from the facebook.com email address and instead have them use a fb.com address. Bad move…employees want to be known for working at Facebook and to give them an acronym that is probably more well-known among casual users than business professionals, facebook.com holds much sway . For Facebook’s new social messaging platform, it seems more appropriate to have the fb.com address because it’s more mobile friendly (easier to compose on the fly) and it’s “cooler” to have than facebook.com – the latter seems more corporate to have and representative of the company.

So now you put your employees into an odd predicament. Would they care about switching over email addresses? I might find it a bit of an inconvenience, but I suppose whatever works for your customers. Perhaps its the novelty of having a facebook.com address that will have more users be accepting of this new messaging system and it does make sense that you need to have two different email address domains for your employees and customers because, well, let’s face it, even with 500 million users signing up, you’re going to run out of unique email addresses that your employees will have – the odds are great that at least two people will have the same name that affects a user and employee.

Professionalism be damned, I suppose

When I heard that the email addresses that Facebook users would be using was their username, I was intrigued, but the thought about giving users the facebook.com address soon became a troublesome one. If I were an engineer or an executive at Facebook, I surely would not want to parade myself with business cards saying that I work at Facebook and have it say fb.com – it’s just not professsional sounding.

Make no mistake, I’m not accusing Facebook of having a flawed system, but rather that they are bastardizing and slicing up their brand that their employees built. Having a facebook.com account makes it more prestigious and recognizable – and I get that they want to share that with their users, but I think that giving up a bit of your brand to your customers who will use it to just send messages to each other may be a bit mistake – even though it’s just an email address, it can be quite recognizable than signage. Your employees are your main evangelists and by having them use fb.com, you’re not helping your cause (and yes, I know that Facebook itself is very recognizable and nearly everyone in the world knows them, but they still need to have a good rep).

The damage is done. Nothing left to do but move forward.

While this is nothing more than just a rant about Facebook’s abuse of their brand, I think that there’s nothing else that can be done. Instead let’s just move on and savor the fact that Facebook has a good platform now and any changes relating to the brand will have to be dealt from within their institution.

Photo Credit: Robert Scoble / Flickr

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently Flipboard's Assistant Managing Editor, overseeing news curation in technology, science, gaming and health. In addition to his day job, Ken's the co-host of "The Created Economy" podcast, examining the Creator Economy. In a past life, he was a former reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding.