Facebook is now offering applications access to users' mobile phone and addresses, though sharing must be approved by users.
Facebook's decision to offer applications access to users' phone numbers and
addresses has put the company in the crosshairs of yet another
"We are now making a user's address and mobile phone number accessible
as part of the User Graph object," blogged Jeff Bowen
member of Facebook's developer support team. "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."
According to the company, the idea is to make applications built on
Facebook more "useful and efficient."
"For example, a frequently used e-commerce application or Website
is better when it has your address stored for a faster checkout, and an airline
can serve you better if it has an always-up-to-date mobile number to reach you
for last-minute itinerary changes," a Facebook spokesperson told eWEEK.
Still, the prospect of rogue applications getting
access to phone
and address information should make users nervous, opined
Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.
"Facebook is already plagued
by rogue applications
that post spam links to users' walls, and point
users to survey scams that earn them commission-and even sometimes trick users
into handing over their cellphone numbers to sign them up for a premium rate
service," he blogged. "Now, shady app developers will find it easier
than ever before to gather even more personal information from users. You can
imagine, for instance, that bad guys could set up a rogue app that collects
mobile phone numbers and then uses that information for the purposes of SMS
spamming or sells on the data to cold-calling companies."
However, in order for an app to access the information, the user still has
to grant the application permission.
to explicitly choose
to share your data before any app or Website can
access it, and no private information is shared without your permission,"
the Facebook spokesperson said. "As an additional step for this new
feature, you're not able to share your friends' address or mobile information."