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Summary:

Facebook has quietly announced to application developers that third-party apps will be able to access the addresses and mobile phone numbers of Facebook users. The easiest way to avoid making postal addresses and mobile phone numbers available is to not include them in your Facebook profile.

Facebook permission

On Friday evening, Facebook quietly announced to application developers that third-party apps will be able to access the addresses and mobile phone numbers of its users.

As the All Facebook blog points out, users must explicitly give permission to third-party apps wanting access to personal information, but many people probably won’t notice the addition of the words “current address and mobile phone number” to the text in the request window, and will likely click “allow” without realizing they’re granting so much access to their data.

This change is consistent with Facebook’s policy of encouraging openness. But for web workers who are increasingly using Facebook for business purposes, such a policy may not be welcome.

Of course, the easiest way to avoid making your postal address and mobile phone number available to third parties is to not include it in your Facebook profile at all. To edit this data, go to “Profile” at the top-right of the Facebook screen, then click on the “Edit Profile” button. From the menu on the left, click on “Contact Information.” Delete any information you may have entered in the “Mobile Phone” and “Address” fields, then click the blue “Save Changes” button at the bottom of the screen.

Note: if you’ve added a phone number in the “Other Phone” field, Facebook will copy that number into the “Mobile Phone” field if you leave the mobile number blank. So you’ll need to erase any phone numbers that you’ve entered into either field.

Do you include your personal contact information on your Facebook page?

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  1. Why? Why in the world do apps need this information??? I have friends who are dropping their accounts or scaling way back on interactions due to these types of changes.

    1. Charles Hamilton DRM7 Monday, January 17, 2011

      Facebook is worth $50B to investors (http://gigaom.com/2011/01/15/only-50-billion-facebook-stock-is-still-a-steal/) and to app developers because of the data it collects about you. As security expert Bruce Schneier has said, “Don’t fool yourself that use are the user of social networks – you are the product.” http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2010/10/12/bruce-schneier-calls-facebook-worst-privacy-offender

  2. I barely have use for Facebook and this makes it more useless to me. People cry about the assumed privacy concerns of some other companies while turning a blind eye to the constant molestetion of user data by Facebook.

    I only use Facebook to keep up with family, actual friends and bands that I like. I’m thinking that there has to be a better way to do that.

  3. I realize our personal data is what they want to sell. The better the data FB can offer advertisers the more it is worth. I have to wonder what the tipping point is where they could implode on their own greed. Like I said, I’ve got friends starting to abandon FB for various reasons and this is just one of them.

  4. Precisely why I questioned Facebook initially, and after giving in for awhile, opened an account with settings intact, hoping to protect my privacy. It’s all a sham! Facebook’s sneakiness at using its consumers as the product places everyone at higher risk to online strangers even moreso, especially teens who aren’t so savvy in recognizing what is happening before it is too late and a literal stalker appears at their front door. What’s it gonna take people? Greed is gonna come back to haunt this company, as others already have felt their own fall-outs. The legal ramifications are enormous.

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