Facebook Temporarily Suspends Address, Phone Number Sharing

Over the weekend, I wrote in this space that Facebook, on Friday night, had quietly rolled out an option for developers to gain access to more of your once-private information: your mobile phone number and address, calling it "the next Facebook privacy scandal." The new option would only require that developers add a line of text to the permissions box that you must accept for any third-party application to sync with your personal profile.

This morning, at 2:25 a.m., Douglas Purdy wrote on the same blog that his team was temporarily suspending the "improvement" pending some changes. It's still unclear what those changes will be, but the primary complaint was that the new line of text did little to alert users to how sensitive the information is that they would be giving away. His note, in full:

On Friday, we expanded the information you are able to share with external websites and applications to include your address and mobile number. With this change, you could, for example, easily share your address and mobile phone with a shopping site to streamline the checkout process, or sign up for up-to-the-minute alerts on special deals directly to your mobile phone.

As with the other information you share through our permissions process, you need to explicitly choose to share this data before any application or website can access it, and you can not share your friends' address or mobile number with applications. Also, like other data you make available to third party apps and websites, you can always clearly see and control the ways your information is being used in the Application Dashboard.

Over the weekend, we got some useful feedback that we could make people more clearly aware of when they are granting access to this 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.

Purdy was brought on only two months ago to help "improve Facebook's relationship with the community," according to ReadWriteWeb.

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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