The next time you find yourself staring down a “request for permission” screen on your Facebook account you might want to think twice, then three or four more times before you choose”Allow” for your new application.
Facebook has announced that they are now allowing developers to grab extra personal data from users, including their address and mobile phone number.
In the past Facebook privacy settings has barred sending phone numbers and address information to developers, relying instead on the users name, gender, a list of their friends and other already available public information.
Facebook is rushing to ease user fears, stating that developers can only access information when users explicitly give them permission and that all data use is governed by Facebook’s Platform Policies, which in most cases hold absolutely no guarantees to users and instead rely on app developers to properly use data they have received.
On the one hand, users have to choose whether or not to allow for their data to be mined, on the other hand, many users have “programmed” themselves to simply click “Allow” when signing up for new third party programs.
If Facebook really wants to protect users from rogue programs and even from accidentally clicking “Allow” on programs they may not want to share information with, perhaps they should think about only allowing such information to trusted third party developers who have been properly vetted into the program.
At this time there appears to be no way for users who click Allow to realize their information has been shared through Facebook and if that info is shared immediately after accepting an apps terms, users who choose to uninstall applications, even immediately, may have their information already gathered by the third-party developer.
On the flip side, many developers on the official Facebook programmers page believe the new data being shared should not be allowed, going so far as to urge their users to remove their personal information from their profiles to avoid their data being passed along to rogue programmers who could give their lucrative platform a bad name.
It all comes back to Facebook properly monitoring their own systems, perhaps approving each application as they arrive into the Facebook system, much like mobile apps must be approved by most mobile operating system platforms. In any case, Facebook isn’t getting the type of response they would hope for and this time it’s falling on both sides of the spectrum with both developers and site users unhappy with Facebook’s newest attempt to create a more “open” web.