Facebook Creating Privacy Issues?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Facebook has decided to give third-party developers and external websites authorization to access users' home addresses and cellphone numbers despite criticism from privacy experts, Facebook users, and even congressmen Edward Markey and Joe Barton.

"Mobile phone numbers and personal addresses, particularly those that can identify teenagers using Facebook, require special protection," said Rep. Edward Markey. "We must ensure that this sensitive information is safeguarded, with clear, distinct permissions so that users know precisely what's in store when they opt to share this data with third parties.

After the congressmen sent a letter to Facebook expressing their concerns over the new functionality, Facebook responded and ultimately reaffirmed it's decision to still allow third parties to request access to users' addresses and phone numbers.

Facebook's plan to open up users' addresses and phone numbers to third-party sites and services is the latest frontier in Facebook's often controversy-filled efforts to encourage users' to be looser in sharing their information.

Privacy experts have warned that even if this new feature included improved notifications and protection for minors, it could still endanger users' personal information and increase their risk of being targeted by scams, spam, and identity thieves.

"People never thought when they were posting this data that it would be accessible to anyone but friends. There's a real mismatch of expectations around that," said Mary Hodder, chairman of the Personal Data Ecosystem Consortium.

Facebook is once again walking the thin line of breaking users' privacy. So, what's your take on Facebook's latest move? Are they officially crossing the line of privacy? Or are they still in the right since Facebook is, in fact, a public site?

I can't help but feel bad for Facebook users because it seems that Facebook's approach really is "Everything on here is public, therefore, you give us anything and it's completely fair game." I am at least happy about Facebook saying they will make an effort to keep users aware of when they could be giving information away and asking for permission.

Photo Credit: digitaltrends.com via Creative Commons


Ben Lucas March 1, 2011 at 11:49 PM  

I've read about Facebook essentially "selling" personal info to various ad companies for a long time. Personally, I think it's despicable to not make its content completely private, at least without a big, obvious disclaimer that what they're actually doing is making you a target demographic for a market.

Jeremy Dubois March 2, 2011 at 8:33 AM  

I think that if you put your mobile phone number or your address on Facebook, you agree that people can use it if they are your "friends". You have the choice whether or not to put all private stuff in a public space like Facebook, nobody is forcing the user to do it.

Morgan Abel March 2, 2011 at 10:15 AM  

I agree with Jeremy, No one forces people to add their phone number on Facebook. How private can one assume the internet actually is? Even if you have something set as private it can still potentially be hacked into.

Zach James March 2, 2011 at 10:37 AM  

Simplest solution: Don't put anything on social media that you don't want others sharing or seeing. Facebook users have an inbox for a reason.

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