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."

Voices
Numbers of complaints about unwanted calls have trebled in just six months
voices
News
people
Arts & Entertainment
Picture of innocence: Ricky Gervais and Karl Pilkington in ‘Derek’
tvReview: The insights of Ricky Gervais's sweet and kind character call to mind Karl Pilkington's faux-naïf podcast observations
Life & Style
Looking familiar: The global biometrics industry is expected to grow to $20bn by 2020
tech
VIDEO
News
Higher expectations: European economies are growing but the recovery remains weak
newsThe eurozone crisis has tipped many into despair and extremism - this radically altered landscape calls for a new kind of politics, argues economist Philippe Legrain
Arts & Entertainment
Tangled up in blue: Singer-songwriter Judith Owen
musicAnd how husband Harry Shearer - of Spinal Tap and The Simpsons fame - helped her music flourish
Sport
Karim Benzema celebrates scoring the opening goal
sportReal Madrid 1 Bayern Munich 0: Germans will need their legendary self-belief to rescue Champions League tie in second leg
Arts & Entertainment
Paul Weller: 'I am a big supporter of independent record stores but the greedy touts making a fast buck off genuine fans is disgusting'
music
Arts & Entertainment
William Shakespeare's influence on English culture is still strongly felt today, from his plays on stage to words we use everyday
arts
Sport
Manchester United manager David Moyes has claimed supporters understand the need to look at
sportScot thanks club staff and fans, but gives no specific mention of players
News
Foster and Hedison have reportedly been dating since last summer
peopleOscar-winner said to be 'totally in love' with Alexandra Hedison
News
Strange 'quack' noises could be undersea chatter of Minke whales
science
News
weird news... and film it, obviously
Life & Style
Balancing act: City workers at the launch of Cityfathers
lifeThe organisation is the brainchild of Louisa Symington-Mills who set up Citymothers in 2012 - a group boasting more than 3,000 members
Arts & Entertainment
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Senior Business Development Manager

    £50000 Per Annum + Excellent Benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: The Clie...

    Web Manager – South West London – Permanent – Up to £35k DOE

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum plus benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our ...

    Projects Financial Analyst - Global Technology firm

    £55000 - £62000 per annum + outstanding benefits and bonus: Pro-Recruitment Gr...

    Commercial B2B Pricing Specialist - Global Bids and Tenders

    £35000 - £45000 per annum + excellent company benefits : Pro-Recruitment Group...

    Day In a Page

    Migrants in Britain a decade on: The Poles who brought prosperity

    Migrants in Britain a decade on

    The Poles who brought prosperity
    Philippe Legrain: 'The eurozone crisis has tipped many into disillusionment, despair and extremism - we need a European Spring'

    Philippe Legrain: 'We need a European Spring'

    The eurozone crisis has tipped many into disillusionment, despair and extremism - this radically altered landscape calls for a new kind of politics, argues the economist
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A moment of glory on the Western Front for the soldiers of the Raj

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A moment of glory on the Western Front for the soldiers of the Raj
    Judith Owen reveals how husband Harry Shearer - star of This Is Spinal Tap and The Simpsons - helped her music flourish

    Judith Owen: 'How my husband helped my music flourish'

    Her mother's suicide and father's cancer also informed the singer-songwriter's new album, says Pierre Perrone
    The online lifeline: How a housing association's remarkable educational initiative gave hope to tenant battling long-term illness and depression

    Online lifeline: Housing association's educational initiative

    South Yorkshire Housing Association's free training courses gave hope to tenant battling long-term illness and depression
    Face-recognition software: Is this the end of anonymity for all of us?

    Face-recognition software: The end of anonymity?

    The software is already used for military surveillance, by police to identify suspects - and on Facebook
    Train Kick Selfie Guy is set to scoop up to $250,000 thanks to his viral video - so how can you cash in on your candid moments?

    Viral videos: Cashing in on candid moments

    Train Kick Selfie Guy Jared Frank could receive anything between $30,000 to $250,000 for his misfortune - and that's just his cut of advertising revenue from being viewed on YouTube
    The world's fastest elevators - 20 metres per second - are coming soon to China

    World's fastest elevators coming soon to China

    Whatever next? Simon Usborne finds out from Britain's highest authority on the subject
    Cityfathers tackles long-hours culture that causes men to miss out on seeing their children

    Cityfathers tackles long-hours culture

    The organisation is the brainchild of Louisa Symington-Mills, a chief operating officer who set up Citymothers in 2012 - a group that now boasts more than 3,000 members
    Ian Herbert: Manchester United broken so badly they need a big personality to carry out overhaul

    United broken so badly they need a big personality to carry out overhaul

    The size of the rebuild needed at Old Trafford is a task way beyond Ryan Giggs, says Ian Herbert
    Mark Schwarzer: Chelsea keeper aims to seize unlikely final chance

    Mark Schwarzer: Chelsea keeper aims to seize unlikely final chance

    The 41-year-old calmed his nerves to perform a classic 'Superman act' when he replaced Petr Cech in Madrid. One clean sheet later, he is now determined to become a club hero
    Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home

    It's not always fun in the sun: Moving abroad does not guarantee happiness

    Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home
    Migrants in Britain a decade on: They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire

    Migrants in Britain a decade on

    They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire
    Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

    Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

    The 'Thick of It' favourite thinks the romcom is an 'awful genre'. So why is he happy with a starring role in Sky Living's new Lake District-set series 'Trying Again'?