Facebook Boiling the Privacy Frog (You)

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Facebook is preparing to give away your phone number and address to app developers and advertisers.

The frog is officially beginning to boil. Just check out all of the articles swirling around on the internet about Facebook’s latest attempt to release more of your information without your consent. This time they want to give out your phone number and address. They were pretty clear that the reason they want this information is to pass it on to developers of apps such as Farmville and advertisers that want to bolster their profile on you. They released the post late Friday afternoon – so late in fact that many news outlets didn’t pick it up until Monday. Many are accusing Facebook of trying to bury the news.

Here is what was posted:

User Address and Mobile Phone Number
We are now making a user’s address and mobile phone number accessible as part of the User Graph object. Because this is sensitive information, we have created the new user_address and user_mobile_phone permissions. These permissions must be explicitly granted to your application by the user via our standard permissions dialogs.

Although users currently have to give applications permission to access their information, there is a slight addition above to the type of information being shared. Look for  “Access my contact information”, with the subtitle “Current Address and Mobile Phone Number” (see image above). If Facebook were actually interested in making their data sharing strategy noticeable, at least they could have bolded the warning rather than the hey-don’t-pay-attention-to-me-faded-gray they used.

Of course, Facebook and their faithful application developers are banking on the assumption that most users are willing to give up their privacy in order to access Facebook and all it has to offer. But, what they fail to remember is that a phone number and address are much more sensitive pieces of your identity than your picture and email address.

When do the slowly growing invasions of our privacy by Facebook become too much to handle? When has the privacy temperature in the Facebook Database been raised to the point that users are boiling? Will users ever leave the site in order to protect their identities? Facebook is making these changes so slowly (and late in the weekly newscycle) that the average user doesn’t realize that this invasion of our privacy has gone one degree to far.

I guess the simple way to resolve the issue for now is to remove your phone number and home address from your Facebook profile so that there is nothing to share. The larger question is what will Facebook do next? You never know – such information leakage may be a requirement to use the social networking site.

John Sileo is an information survival expert whose clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer, Homeland Security, FDIC, FTC, Federal Reserve Bank, Blue Cross Blue Shield and hundreds of corporations and organizations of all sizes. He earns his keep delivering highly motivational identity theft speeches.

The Facebook Safety Survival Guide gives you extensive background knowledge on many of the safety and privacy issues that plague social networking sites, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, MySpace, and others. Social networking, texting, instant messaging, video messaging, blogging – these are all amazing tools that the American workforce uses natively (and naively), as part of their everyday lives. This Guide’s purpose is to make their online vigilance and discretion just as native, so that they learn to protect the personal information they put on the web before it becomes a problem. Social networking is immensely powerful and is here for the long run, but we must learn to harness and control it.

Facebook Changing Privacy Settings – Again!


Facebook faced major backlash last month after they implemented a new tool that linked your interests to sites across the Internet and allowed third parties access to your information unless you specifically deny such access. As we mentioned in yesterday’s blog about an [intlink id=”2062″ type=”post”]easy way to configure your privacy settings[/intlink] in Facebook, there are 50 different settings with more than 170 options!

Many Facebook users have been extremely vocal about their frustrations, even organizing efforts to quit the quickly growing site. According to CNN Facebook will be reversing these changes today to make them simpler for the user with the intent of increasing user privacy.

“I can confirm that our new, simpler user controls will begin rolling out tomorrow. I can’t say more yet,” Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes told CNN in an e-mail Tuesday.

In a piece on Monday in The Washington Post, Zuckerberg said upcoming tweaks — which could be implemented as early as Wednesday — will make it simpler to use these privacy controls and and provide an easy way to turn off all third-party services. Keep your eye out for these changes, but if you are concerned about your current privacy settings try this new Facebook Privacy Tool.

Read more on the CNN article: Facebook to Announce Changes after Privacy Settings Backlash

Order your copy of the Facebook Safety Survival Guide to make sure you and your children are protected online.

John Sileo helps businesses tackle social networking privacy concerns. His clients include the Department of Defense, the FTC, Pfizer and the FDIC. To learn more about having him speak at your next meeting or conference or working directly with your business, contact him by email or on 800.258.8076

Facebook Changes Compromise Your Privacy


As of last week, Facebook has added two new ways that you can connect to things you care about. The problem with these changes is that they takes away the user’s ability to control who can see these connections. The first change made is the addition of Community Pages described by Facebook:

Community Pages are a new type of Facebook Page dedicated to a topic or experience that is owned collectively by the community connected to it. Just like official Pages for businesses, organizations, and public figures, Community Pages let you connect with others who share similar interests and experiences.

The addition of these new pages mean that certain parts of your profile, “including your current city, hometown, education and work, and likes and interests” will now be transformed into “connections,” meaning that they will be shared publicly. If you don’t want these parts of your profile to be made public, your only option is to delete them.

The second change that they made is More Connected Profiles, which links personal information about yourself, such as your likes and interests, favorite books, music and movies, to other users with the same personal information. Facebook explains it like this:

Now, certain parts of your profile, including your current city, hometown, education and work, and likes and interests, will contain “connections.” Instead of just boring text, these connections are actually Pages, so your profile will become immediately more connected to the places, things and experiences that matter to you.

The issue is not that they force you to link your interests without permission and then leak your personal information, but rather that they remove an option to include such information to only your friends – without links. You can manage and remove connections, control the visibility, or opt-out, but you can not include the information without it being public knowledge. So it’s all or nothing.

Facebook has added a post – Connecting to Everything you Care About –  on their blog with details of these new changes. Make sure that you know what is on your Facebook Page and what is visible to your friends and everyone on Facebook. Visit Facebook’s Privacy Page for more information and always remember – Posts are Public, Permanent, and Exploitable!

UPDATE: Read Facebook Reacts to Senators Concerns on CNN about a letter sent to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO and Founder, by Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer of New York, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Mark Begich of Alaska, and Al Franken of Minnesota addressing the recent changes with regard to users privacy.

John Sileo became one of America’s leading Social Networking Speakers & sought after Identity Theft Experts after he lost his business and more than $300,000 to identity theft and data breach. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To learn more about having him speak at your next meeting or conference, contact him by email or on 800.258.8076.