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Facebook temporarily halts its latest privacy blunder

Needs time to address issues
Tue Jan 18 2011, 10:50

FOLLOWING COMPLAINTS, Facebook has decided to suspend developers' ability to tap into its users' addresses and phone numbers.

Facebook revealed its latest invasion of privacy technique late last week, resulting in a barrage of criticism. Updates to its database allowed developers, once given permission by users, access to users' addresses and telephone numbers.

While the majority of Facebook's users might not have cared, many commentors and even insecurity outfit Sophos raised concerns. Sophos went so far as to recommend that Facebook users remove addresses and telephone numbers from their profiles, a statement that caused Facebook to respond by claiming it had privacy policies in place to protect its users' privacy. Less than a day later, it seems that the social notworking website didn't really have such policies in place after all.

In a statement, Facebook's Douglas Purdy was left to announce the embarrassing U-turn by saying "we got some useful feedback that we could make people more clearly aware of when they are granting access to this data." He continued, "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."

Facebook's cavalier attitude toward the handling of private data is highlighted in Purdy's statement. When a company enables third parties to access such sensitive personal information, one would think that it would design ways to share the information safely and only with those the user intends.

Instead, Facebook's users are again left to wonder whether the outfit considers the implications of its handling of personal data before it is too late. µ



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