It is getting a little tedious writing about Facebook and its seemingly continual issues with protecting user data. The latest privacy issue to arise with Facebook is the news that the social networking giant this week, began allowing applications to have access to your physical address and your cell phone number. Just take a moment and let that sink in… Like with any application, you must grant it permission to access this information, but most users don’t understand what they are agreeing to when they grant an application access to their profile information. You do have the option to not allow access to this information, but the default is, if you grant an app access to your profile, it will have access to this information.
After a ton of coverage and serious concerns about user privacy, Facebook announced on Monday that they will temporarily suspend this service until the can “fine tune the way it works”.
I’m not sure why Facebook continues to move in this direction? Maybe they figure they’ve got enough users and enough marketshare that even if they are cavalier with users’ data people will complain, but won’t actually stop using their service. That seems shortsighted to me, but I suppose only time will tell.
What can you do if you don’t want apps to have access to this information? You could disallow access to this information when you grant an app access to your profile. Or, you could simply remove your address and cell phone information from your Facebook account all together. There is no reason for Facebook to have either piece of information, in my opinion. I’ve already commented on posting your birthday, as it is one of the key personal identifiers used to authenticate individuals. What do they ask you when you call your doctor’s office right after your name – date of birth.
We will continue to follow this issue.