Well, yet another questionable move by Facebook in terms of protecting user information and privacy. Certainly not a questionable move in terms of monetizing their platform and making it advertiser/corporate friendly, though. On January 14th Facebook released a new feature for application developers: “We are now making a user’s address and mobile phone number accessible.”
Fantastic. While Facebook does make a gesture towards providing user control of this access (“…because this is sensitive information…these permissions must be explicitly granted to your application by the user via our standard permissions dialogs”) how many people really read through all the “request for permission” yadda yadda yadda when adding a new app? Probably the same number of people who just click through store bought software EULAs – that is, nearly none.
Also, given Facebook’s rather uninspiring history of private data security breaches and simply making personal info highly available by default, how much confidence should we really have that access to this extremely desirable information will remain secure / tightly user controlled for long?
While I’ve never had my phone number or address on my profile out of general concern for giving companies my personal information unnecessarily, I’m sure there are many people out there who haven’t given it a second though or are a little naive and think it is required information. Or that it needs to be completed simply because it’s there. While there is something to be said for personal responsibility in these matters, there’s also a responsibility on the information collecting agency’s part to protect it and, to some degree, act in the user’s interests in keeping it private and secure. Rather than, oh I don’t know, say maybe using it as chum by throwing it out into the waters of their app APIs?
Man oh man, the end user control offered by Diaspora can’t come out soon enough for me…