January 19, 2011 Facebook is No Place for Your Address or Phone Numbers (UPDATED)
The Internet safety experts have long urged us all, especially young folk, to keep our personal information off of our Facebook pages. Now there’s a really good reason to heed their advice. Facebook has announced via one of their developer’s blogs that through a new Request for Permission process, third party applications can now access user’s addresses and mobile phone numbers. This includes those dreaded rogue applications that make Facebook an increasingly unsafe place to park your personals!
Here’s the quick skinny on “rogue” Facebook apps. These are developers who offer apps not approved by Facebook. Among them are shady operators who specialize in devising ways to get your attention, your clicks and ultimately your personal information for their own financial gain. As Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos and Computer Weekly’s Security Blogger of the Year, says:
Facebook is already plagued by rogue applications that post spam links to users’ walls, and point users to survey scams that earn them commission – and even sometimes trick users into handing over their cellphone numbers to sign them up for a premium rate service.
Now the unscrupulous developers behind those apps will find it even easier to access personal information. What is at risk, you ask? When someone has your personal information, like your mobile phone number and address, not only can they harass you via text message, phone call and mail (well, snail mail is so not likely) with ads and marketing scams, but they now have even more of your information to succeed at identity theft.
This is no small matter.
The best action to take is to remove your address and cell numbers from your Facebook page. These apps can only access your information if you authorize it. So watch out for the Request for Permission window that pops up for third party apps. Listed on the bottom of the window is an option to “Access my current information” which allows the app your address and mobile phone number. Don’t be careless with your approvals.
Beware, be conservative with your app use and keep your information off your page. If your address and cell numbers are not there, your chances of being duped are greatly decreased.
You know…as always…better safe than sorry!
UPDATE: Facebook, after user outcry, is reconsidering this change. Though Facebook folk have taken a step back from this last decision, the initial move to provide more access to users’ information makes a huge statement about how much Facebook values your privacy. They have consistently shown that they do not have much regard for the safety of your personal information. As many experts point out, Facebook really wants to share this information. They will likely keep trying to find ways to offer access to it.
So the message is the same for Facebook (and elsewhere), guard your information with commitment! whatever you do not want to share on Facebook, keep off of Facebook! For more information on latest on privacy, check out this conversation.