Facebook turns off mobile number sharing after complaints
Facebook has stopped allowing third-party developers access to users’ mobile numbers and addresses – but only temporarily.
Late on Friday, Facebook announced it would let developers access users’ phone numbers and addresses, leading to security concerns.
“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,” said Doug Purdy, director of developer relations, in a post on the Facebook blog. “We agree, and we are making changes to help ensure you only share this information when you intend to do so.”
We look forward to re-enabling this improved feature in the next few weeks
“We’ll be working to launch these updates as soon as possible, and will be temporarily disabling this feature until those changes are ready,” he said. “We look forward to re-enabling this improved feature in the next few weeks.”
Despite shutting down access to the data, Facebook defended the system, saying users must “explicitly choose” to share such data.
However, security experts noted many users don’t pay attention to such warnings, leaving them at risk of being fooled by the many rogue third-party apps that litter the site.
“While Facebook did alert users through their standard dialog that the application wanted access to this data, many Facebook users simply clicked through, unaware of the import of these messages,” said security advisor Chester Wisniewski on the blog of security software firm, Sophos.
“While Facebook does alert users to the fact that this information will be shared with others, warning prompts and other pop-ups are so frequent that they are frequently ignored,” he added. “Users still place a great deal of trust in Facebook, and the service has an obligation to live up to that expectation.”
The decision isn’t the first U-turn from Facebook, which has previously backtracked over changes to its terms and conditions, as well as its Beacon advertising system.