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
News
people
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer

    £35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

    Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

    Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Developer - HTML, CSS, Javascript

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Application Developer - ...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine