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Facebook Decides to Rethink Phone Number/Address Sharing

Facebook Temporarily Stops Sharing Info, Will Update Permissions Process

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A few days ago, Facebook updated its developer blog with a post called, "Platform Updates: New User Object fields, Edge.remove Event and more," which explained that the company would start granting access to users’ mobile phone numbers and home addresses to third-party developers.  

Granted, users would have had to provide Facebook with this information in the first place, and they would have also had to grant permission to any app or website trying to access it via the familiar permission box:

Facebook Permission Request for User Info

Still, the move raised some concerns. People don’t always read those permission boxes that carefully, when they’re just trying to move on to whatever task they’re trying to complete, and with so much of the web being integrated with Facebook, there’s no telling who all might collect your phone number and address, without paying explicit attention. 

Facebook apparently decided that they agree with this. In a post to the company’s developer blog early this morning, Facebook’s Douglas Purdy wrote:

On Friday, we expanded the information you are able to share with external websites and applications to include your address and mobile number. With this change, you could, for example, easily share your address and mobile phone with a shopping site to streamline the checkout process, or sign up for up-to-the-minute alerts on special deals directly to your mobile phone.

As with the other information you share through our permissions process, you need to explicitly choose to share this data before any application or website can access it, and you can not share your friends’ address or mobile number with applications. Also, like other data you make available to third party apps and websites, you can always clearly see and control the ways your information is being used in the Application Dashboard.

Over the weekend, we got some useful feedback that we could make people more clearly aware of when they are granting access to this data. We agree, and we are making changes to help ensure you only share this information when you intend to do so. We’ll be working to launch these updates as soon as possible, and will be temporarily disabling this feature until those changes are ready. We look forward to re-enabling this improved feature in the next few weeks.

It remains unclear just what changes they’re making to the process, but acknowledgement is certainly a start. It probably also helps that they provided a bit of context for why you might actually want to grant your address and phone number to some sites or apps. 

How would you like to see Facebook go about implementing the feature? Share your thoughts.

Facebook Decides to Rethink Phone Number/Address Sharing
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  • Adsense Publisher

    All this is going to do is make more people enter fake information.

    In fact, I kinda hate it when a social networking site asks information that they don’t need to know. If there isn’t a good reason besides advertising why they need to know my exact address (isn’t my city and zip code good enough?), or my phone number? My phone number? Are you kidding me? Is Facebook going to call me for something, or just sell my info to the telemarketers?

    Listen, I think it’s about time they stopped asking for an address. City and state and possibly zip code is fine to ask for because that information gets turned into non personally identifiable information. So even age would be ok, race, and a few others. But when you ask my address, I know that you’re not intending to group me into some geographical statistical analysis, as you could have done that with nothing more than my city, state, and zip code. They’re obviously looking to sell that information to the advertisers and want us to say yes about it.

    Well I say no!

    You don’t need to know certain information about me to get a better profile.
    My street address and phone number are for one thing only, contacting me.
    Why would facebook need to contact me?

    They only way that Facebook would ever need such information is if they required it’s users to verify themselves by having Facebook either call their landline, or mail them some post card with a pin number on it (like Google Adsense does to verify their 3rd party publishers of Adsense).

    First, who would want to go through such a verification process for a social site?
    Second, if Facebook did find a way that people wouldn’t just forget about Facebook entirely for requiring verification, I’m sure it would crack down on fake accounts and you could actually ban a person for doing bad things on Facebook and they wouldn’t be able to use the same address or name to register a new account with.

    I just don’t trust them. Their goal seems to get as much of personally identifiable information as they can on their members and sell it to advertisers. What ever happened to advertisers simply asking for it? Remember the days of mailing lists? You’d walk into some shop and somebody would ask you if you would like to sign up for the mailer? At least then you knew what to expect. So I caution Facebook at trying to create a one-stop consent form so that millions of advertisers can flood it’s members with advertisements. I might want mail from one advertiser, but not the next.

    Which brings me to the question of why should the advertiser target me and I automatically get some junk mail from them I never wanted? Because they paid for it to happen? So all it takes is money and my consent and Facebook is ok sending me spam on behalf of their advertisers? Can’t I pick the advertiser after I’ve been targeted? So let’s say 20 advertisers were looking for men between the age of 30-40 that live only in California. So I’d see the list of advertisers that wanted to send me information based on my anonymous profile and I could choose out of those advertisers which ones I wanted to have send me something. Could be a coupon, maybe just an advertisement for the product, or whatever. Just that I should be expecting it and not surprised when something comes in the mail I didn’t ask for.

    I think Facebook needs to take a lesson out of Google’s playbook. Let the members control their information and they’ll be happier to give some of it to them for purposes that the members allow. Not Google, not Facebook, not anybody but the member should control that information. It also should be made clear the intended uses of that information that was made available and who exactly has access to that information and the ability to revoke that access by the member at any time.

  • http://www.msn.com Kathy

    I have been recieving junk emails from facebook itself or someone who claims to be looking for sex, etc. I am 62 years old and married for almost 40 years. This is digusting that someone could access my information as I was so careful so set it up as friends only. I have twice now also received a personal email from someone who does not want me to contact them on facebook , but on instant messager. He talked about my profile pictures were so HOT. YUK!!! I am a 62 year old women with my profile picture of my husband and myself. I might have been ‘hot’ 40 years ago, but not now.