Facebook phone number sharing is latest privacy issue debate

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 By

facebook phone number sharing

Facebook phone number sharing confused users into allowing developers access to contact information upon installation of a new app. Image: CC marksdk/Flickr

Facebook privacy issues became a problem for the social networking site again over the weekend. Facebook tried to trick users into supplying Facebook app developers with phone numbers and addresses as part of standard permissions dialogs. A wave of negative feedback compelled Facebook to suspend the practice shortly after it was implemented.

Facebook wants to sell your phone number

The Facebook phone number sharing debacle began late Friday when a request for contact information was included with basic information in the standard permissions dialog box for adding an app. It didn’t take long for Facebook users to realize that they couldn’t install the new app unless they let Facebook share their phone number and address. Bloggers filled the Internet with outrage and the debate over Facebook phone number sharing intensified. Because most Facebook users had become used to clicking “allow” in the permissions dialog box before contact information was added, Facebook was accused of being irresponsible and going too far.

Feedback forces Facebook to disable phone number sharing

Facebook felt the heat caused by phone number sharing and disabled the feature late Sunday night. A post on Facebook’s developer’s blog called criticism of Facebook phone number sharing “useful feedback.” Facebook promised to make changes that both allowed users to share their contact information and made them more aware that they are doing so. Some of that useful feedback included reader comments suggesting a separate, clearly-labeled dialog box for contact information permissions. Another said Facebook needed to stop scammers from targeting Facebook users with rogue apps before removing another layer of Facebook privacy.

Time to double check Facebook privacy settings

A recent plague of rogue app scams on Facebook makes Facebook’s attempt to confuse users into sharing contact information suspicious. Online security experts recommend double checking the “apps and websites” section of Facebook privacy settings. Clicking on “edit settings” shows what information users have agreed to share. Clicking on an individual app, then clicking on “show details” indicates what personal data was recently accessed. The best way to protect contact information is to leave it out of Facebook profile information in the first place.




USA Today

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