To the surprise of only those who knew about and used it, Facebook has started sending notifications to users of its email service announcing that it will be shuttering the service.

Users of the social network were originally given email addresses ending in @facebook.com, back in 2010. In those heady days, when only 500-million people used it, Facebook had aspirations to be messaging central, by offering a unified inbox for all your instant messages and email. Now, with Whatsapp in its pocket and a new direction for its aspirations of connecting people digitally, the company has decided to retire the rarely-used email service that users probably didn’t know they have.

When announced, users could use their custom Facebook URL (www.facebook.com/customname) as an email address. For instance, a user named John Smith could have reserved the custom URL of facebook.com/johnsmith, and consequently that gave him [email protected] as an email address.

Now, the network will simply use those email addresses as forwarding addresses for its users. The forwarding feature can be disabled, though it’s enabled by default. Any mail sent to Mr. Smith’s [email protected] email address will simply forward on to his primary address. This has the unfortunate side effective of giving spammers direct access to people’s primary inboxes. Since it’s not that easy to figure out what a user’s Facebook email address is, it’s probably going to run into privacy concerns in some countries.

Ironic, given that Facebook last year started replacing users’ primary email addresses, on profiles, with their Facebook email addresses. And that, it said at the time, was done in a bid to protect those email addresses from public consumption.

Eleven years ago Christo started writing about technology for one of South Africa's (then) leading computer magazines. His first review? A Samsung LCD monitor. Hey, it was hot news, back then. Nowadays he gets more excited about photography, cars, game consoles, and faster internet connections. He's sort of an Apple fan, but will take any opportunity to remind you about his Windows-powered home theatre PC and desire to own a vanilla Android tablet.   Currently uses: Apple 13-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display, Apple iPhone 5, Microsoft Laser Mouse 6000, Audiofly AF78 Earphones, Xbox 360, Nikon D50.