Facebook address and mobile sharing privacy

Facebook had announced over the weekend that it was making improvements to permissions for address and mobile number sharing. It was intending on expanding the information users would be able to share with external websites and applications. Previously users had to ‘opt-out’ of adding the requesting application. However, yesterday (17th January) Facebook (based on user feedback) decided to back track on the address and mobile sharing issue.

Facebook now says that users need to “explicitly choose to share this data before any application or website can access it, and you cannot share your friends’ address or mobile number with applications. Also, like other data you make available to third-party applications and websites, you can always clearly see and control the ways your information is being used in the Facebook Application Dashboard.”

This u-turn came about from Facebook user feedback and the Naked Security blog from Sophos security expert Graham Cluley. Facebook is attempting to capture valuable personal data for online marketing domination (as well as adding a large chunk of dollars to it’s revenue stream) – everyone knows this – and who blames them! To some privacy advocates this is gradual creep, but do the users really care? I suspect not. In time user behaviour might change (also with the added help of this blog), but not in the immediate future.

As long as Facebook provides clear, secure and transparent options (i.e. double opt-in) then it is right that the user should be totally responsible for deciding whether they provide data such as address and mobile number.

Safe surfing folks!

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