Facebook plays down phone breach rumours

Facebook has moved to quash fears that it is lifting phone numbers and other details from handsets before making them available on the social network.

Facebook plays down phone breach rumours

Stories regarding the privacy scare stemmed from a service called Facebook Phonebook, which automatically lists phone numbers for users’ friends.

The implication was that anyone who used an iPhone and “contact synced” the device would upload all their contacts’ phone numbers without permission onto the site, where they would be widely viewable.

The phonebook feature is also populated from contacts who have included a phone number in the personal details on Facebook.

However, Facebook claimed that numbers uploaded and stored on the site can only be seen via the handset owner’s phonebook. “Only you can see your Phonebook on Facebook; it can’t be seen by anyone else,” a spokesperson said. “This is the same as online phonebooks or email contact lists many people already have as a back-up.”

The company also pointed out that it warned users before the sync was activated, explaining that numbers would be uploaded and how they would be used.

“If you enable this feature, all contacts from your device (name, email address, phone number) will be sent to Facebook and be subject to Facebook’s Privacy Policy, and your friends’ profile photos and other info from Facebook will be added to your iPhone address book,” reads the disclaimer. “Please make sure your friends are comfortable with any use you make of their information.”

The idea that Facebook users really check with all their “friends” before using the services is questionable.

Cautious consumers are likely to be unhappy that, having kept phone numbers from Facebook, a friend can override their wishes and upload their number to the service.

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