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January 18, 2011

Facebook rethinks new contact details policy for app devs

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by Darren Allan

Last Friday, Facebook implemented a change to its system whereby application developers could request access to a user’s contact details.

When you download a third-party app, you’re probably familiar with the box that pops up asking for permission to access basic information such as your name, gender and user ID.

An additional section was added to this which asked for permission to access the user’s current address and mobile number.

This move prompted concern considering that most people don’t read these permission boxes properly, and are likely just to click through without realising they’re giving away such sensitive information.

More fool them for not reading things properly, you might argue, but this tweak is one that was always going to rile up privacy activists (something that Facebook has become an expert at these days).

The big worry here, however, is about rogue “developers” who might set up scam applications to get hold of those details.

Some security experts, such as Sophos, advised Facebookers to remove their address and mobile number from the social networking site as a result.

Facebook has responded to concerns raised by the likes of Sophos this morning. In a post on the site’s Developer Blog, Douglas Purdy wrote: “Over the weekend, we got some useful feedback that we could make people more clearly aware of when they are granting access to this [address and mobile phone] 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.”

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1 Comment »
  1. Wow I hate facebook, notice they’re not stopping?
    “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.”

    They know their avergage sheeple user will just click through it anyway :(

    Comment by stewhites — January 18, 2011 @ 7:29 pm

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