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Worried About Providing Facebook With Your Contact Information?

March 4, 2011 by Dustin

People who are familiar with Facebook apps (applications) already know that in order to use them they require access to basic information from your account.  Before using these apps a user encounters a permission request prompt to access their basic information and it is completely up to the individual to approve or deny that request.  Recently Facebook has entertained the notion of applications that requires access to addition personal information found in user accounts.  Like the previous request prompts the new apps would require access to your basic information as well as additional data such as your phone number and mailing address.

facebook privacy Worried About Providing Facebook With Your Contact Information?

Although the applications would not have access to your contact information unless you provide them with authorization, this concept has caused concern for users.  After announcing the news, Facebook Privacy Settings were faced with much criticism and the debacle eventually caused them to briefly abandon the idea.  However, recently Facebook has announced that they are continuing as planned with contact information based applications.  Facebook has stated that they only delayed this feature in an attempt to construct a better prompt screen that would inform the individuals accessing the application that their contact information is needed in order to continue.

Given the sensitive nature of personal contact information it is understandable that people are weary of this idea.  It is important to remember that Facebook will still maintain their promise regarding not giving out any of your personal information unless you allow them to.  If users do not want an application to access their phone number or address then they  have the option of not using these programs.

Facebook is currently home to more than 550,000 applications.  A number of applications have a legitimate reason for accessing your phone and address, but if you are unsure about sharing your information there are still plenty of other applications to enjoy where the contact information is not needed.  Due to the buzz around this issue people have began to automatically assume that Facebook is going to give out their information, but that’s not completely true.  If a user fully and accurately reads the permission request prompt for each app it informs them that the final decision is the users to make. Unaware of the facts or afraid where this concept might lead, a lot of members have already begun to remove their phone numbers or provide inaccurate information.

When initially launched in January the main controversy surrounding this feature was due to the lack of explanation as to why applications require contact information. Another major point of contention was based on the consideration of younger users who may not fully comprehend the importance of keeping their personal information private.  The younger users of Facebook may assume that their information is safe and quickly grant permission to these applications where as a wiser user will be able to identify the risk associated and make an informed decision regarding the access to their profile information.

These points bring up some legitimate concerns and although Facebook already has a number of processes in place to restrict underage users, little has been done to ease the trepidation regarding this issue. For most Facebook users they can rest assured that their information will remain private until they decide otherwise.  It would be one thing to worry if Facebook granted access to your information without your consent but that is not the case. So, if you use Facebook and you are concerned about your contact information traveling to third party applications you can relax because you still have the final say and hopefully it will always remain that way.

Read all the details surrounding this issue in the Facebook letter to Congressmen Markey and Barton who were the major opposition against contact information based applications! Facebook Global Public Policy

Thanks for reading!

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