Facebook gives apps access to addresses and phone numbers

facebook_contact_info.top.jpgFacebook now lets app makers request access to your phone number and address. Laurie Segall, staff reporter


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Facebook is giving app developers access to some of the most sensitive personal data it possess: Members' addresses and phone numbers.

The company slipped the change in quietly, announcing it late last week in a post on its developer blog.

Facebook members will need to explicitly grant permission for apps to tap into their contact information. And they'll only be able to grant that permission for their own data -- users can't choose to allow access to their friends' contact information.

But that may not be enough of a shield. Facebook frequently comes under fire for its constantly changing privacy policies, and many users find the tools it makes available for adjusting privacy settings very confusing.

Privacy researcher Christopher Soghoian thinks Facebook botched the message by publicizing the change on its the developer's blog.

"They should have had an announcement: 'This is why were doing this, and is why it's not a privacy problem,'" he says.

The blog Inside Facebook, which obsessively tracks news about the social networking giant, says the new addition doesn't provide users with enough context.

"The biggest problem with access to contact information is that the permission requests for these highly sensitive data fields are not distinguished from requests for more benign data like a user's Event RSVPs or privileges like publishing to their stream," Inside Facebook writer Josh Constine says.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been vocal about his view that information wants to be shared.

Last May, in the wake of multiple privacy flare-ups, he described his approach in a Facebook blog post.

"When we started Facebook, we built it around a few simple ideas. People want to share and stay connected with their friends and the people around them. When you have control over what you share, you want to share more," Zuckerberg wrote. "When you share more, the world becomes more open and connected."

Soghoian expects that many Facebook users will allow access to their contact information -- even if they're not thrilled about it.

"For much of the content out there, it's going to be compelling enough or social enough that you're not going to say no," he says. "Consumers don't negotiate with Facebook apps. It's 'take it or leave it.'"

For those that take it, how safe will the data be?

Facebook's terms of service prohibit app makers from transmitting the data they collect to outside parties, but those policies have been violated before. Facebook came under fire last year when San Francisco-based marketing company Rapleaf gathered Facebook IDs from apps and sold those IDs to advertisers. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,122.01 15.31 0.09%
Nasdaq 4,569.62 -1.02 -0.02%
S&P 500 2,000.12 0.10 0.00%
Treasuries 2.36 -0.03 -1.25%
Data as of 7:35pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.20 -0.13 -0.80%
Apple Inc 102.13 1.24 1.23%
Facebook Inc 74.63 -1.33 -1.75%
Yahoo! Inc 38.18 0.39 1.03%
Pfizer Inc 29.49 0.28 0.96%
Data as of 4:02pm ET

Sections

As Elon Musk cancels the latest launch of a SpaceX rocket, he's also got some "horrible nightmares" to contend with. More

Former Fed chief Ben Bernanke believes the 2008 financial crisis was the worst in global history, topping even the Great Depression. More

Tech fans are already excited about the launch of Apple's iPhone 6 next month. There's now a report suggesting that the iWatch could be coming too. Wall Street is pleased. More

Utah State professor Michael Glauser cycled 4,000 miles this summer, visiting 100 entrepreneurs across the country. Here's a snapshot of how they grew their businesses. More

Five CNNMoney readers share stories about saving that you can learn from: What they would do differently if they had another chance. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.