Facebook users advised to delete personal details

Facebook has courted new controversy by allowing developers of apps access to some of its 500 million users' most sensitive information, including telephone numbers and addresses.

The social networking site founded by Mark Zuckerberg, whose own stake is worth $12bn (£7.5bn), announced the change to its policy in a blog last Friday, but the post was intended for designers of apps rather than ordinary users so the change has only come under scrutiny since the weekend. Internet security analysts and privacy experts are now advising people to remove their phone numbers and addresses from the site.

While those who have Facebook accounts must grant individual applications permission to access their details, it is very likely that many people who have clicked their approval plenty of times before will not notice the change in terms and will pass on contact details unknowingly, leaving them more vulnerable to becoming victims of spam.

Facebook, which gives advertisers the ability to target users according to their stated interests, geographical location and other insights, has been criticised increasingly over the years for how it handles the privacy of its account holders.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at IT security and control firm Sophos, said: "The ability to access users' home addresses will also open up more opportunities for identity theft, combined with the other data that can already be extracted from Facebook users' profiles.

"You have to ask yourself – is Facebook putting the safety of its 500-plus million users as a top priority with this move?"

The official Facebook blog post on the subject explains that the company says: "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." It also says that people are merely able to grant external developers the ability to see their own details, rather than those of their friends. But it is often unclear who exactly is behind the small and seemingly harmless pieces of software available via the Facebook, which many users enjoy signing up for in order to brighten up their profile pages or to play games or quizzes with friends. Facebook has opted against a systematic program of vetting potential applications, such as that by Apple.

The website therefore inevitably hosts a number of potentially rogue, independent applications that have been designed by third parties to misleadingly gain access to users' information, and farm it out on as wide a scale as possible.

In a statement issued last night, a spokesman for the website said: "We want to make it easy for people to take the information they've entered into Facebook with them across the web. This new permission gives people the ability to control and share their mobile phone number and address with the websites and apps they want to use."

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: C# .NET Developer / Application Support - Junior

    £21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This business has an industry r...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - C#, ASP.Net, MVC, jQuery

    £42000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is looking for a C# ...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

    £21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician with expe...

    Recruitment Genius: Full Stack Software Developer - £80k - Javascript / MEAN

    £45000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Ambitious, entrepreneurial busi...

    Day In a Page

    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
    Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

    Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

    David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
    Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

    Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

    A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
    10 best DSLRs

    Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

    Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
    Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

    Solved after 200 years

    The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

    Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
    Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

    Sunken sub

    Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

    Age of the selfie

    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
    Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

    Not so square

    How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
    Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

    Still carrying the torch

    The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

    ...but history suggests otherwise
    The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

    The bald truth

    How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
    Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

    Tour de France 2015

    Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
    Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

    A new beginning for supersonic flight?

    Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash