PRIVACY SHREDDER Facebook has revealed that it will make users' addresses and mobile phone numbers available to applications developers.
Facebook has said that developers will need explicit user permission via the standard permission dialogue before access to the data is made available. Nevertheless, this has led IT security firm Sophos to advise Facebook users to remove addresses and phone numbers from their Facebook accounts and review their privacy settings.
The advice from Sophos is certainly smart, but Facebook fired back by issuing a statement saying, "On Facebook you have absolute control over what information you share, who you share it with and when you want to remove it. You need to explicitly choose to share your data before any app or website can access it and no private information is shared without your permission. As an additional step for this new feature, you're not able to share your friends' address or mobile information."
It would be surprising, even for Facebook, to take a brazen attitude to sensitive data such as addresses and phone numbers, and within its developer blog entry it repeated several times that the user had to grant access before the application would get access to the information.
Given the amount of personal data Facebook is offering to developers and therefore advertisers, one has to hope that the outfit realises that its privacy settings allow users to opt out and stay out of its money making schemes.
One would hope that even the most careless Facebook user should realise what damage having their addresses and telephone numbers out in the public domain can do.
Then again, Facebook has succeeded on the premise that the vast majority of its subscribers will remain ignorant of its underlying practices, meaning this too will be another tempest in a teacup. µ
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