Facebook exposes mobile numbers and home addresses

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Do you have your home address and/or your mobile phone number on Facebook? If so then you need to consider removing them or at the very least take great care in what Facebook applications you click and which sites you choose to link with Facebook Connect.

Facebook have announced a change for developers which for the first time allows third parties to access a user’s address and mobile phone number from Facebook. Whilst this makes sense, for instance in a shopping application the supplier will need to know where to ship your purchases, it also opens up the danger from spam applications.

There are countless Facebook applications which do little more than post on your Facebook wall to advertise their offering to your friends. Now these rogue application developers will be able to obtain your address and mobile number and spam you off Facebook. They’ll be able to sign you up for marketing text messages and add you to junk marketing lists to have mail to be delivered to your house.

Staying safe on Facebook

  • If you do have your personal details on Facebook then be vigilant as to what data you make available from different applications
  • Consider removing your address and mobile phone number from the site.
  • If your children use Facebook ensure that they have no personal information listed on their profile and monitor what applications they are using.
  • Don’t use your children’s or your pet’s names as passwords and then post about them on Facebook, it makes your password too easy to guess. Many people use names as passwords so don’t use them on any website.
  • Be careful who you accept as Facebook friends, do you really know this person?
  • Set the security settings on your profile to “Only my friends”
  • Monitor pictures that other people put of you and tag you on and don’t hesitate to click the “remove tag” link if you’d rather the image wasn’t linked to you.
  • Finally don’t post on your wall or status when you’re on holiday and your house will be empty. Post your holiday pictures when you return home, not while you’re away.

15:25 18/01/11 Updated to add: Facebook agree that it’s not easy to tell when you’re sharing your information with people. They’ve disabled the feature to share mobile phone numbers and home addresses until they can “ensure you only share this information when you intend to do so”. Facebook reckon it’ll be a couple of weeks until they re-launch the feature .

They point out that “like other data you make available to third party apps and websites, you can always clearly see and control the ways your information is being used in the Application Dashboard”. That may be well and true if you know how to do so, but disabling a Facebook application isn’t going to remove you from the spam lists you’ve already been added to once a rogue company has captured your number.

Even when the feature is re-launched I’d still be very careful choosing which if any companies apps you allow access to your personal details.

8 Responses

  1. Thats the thing about facebook. People accept people they don’t know as friends and then post their lives on face book and tell every one when there out. Not a very good idea if you have a home business selling on-line with stock at home.

  2. you can get all this and more from ebay.
    •Be careful who you accept as an Ebay buyer, do you really know this person?

  3. …and you may get run over by a bus…who cares. You have to live, not skulk around worrying all the time about what “might” happen, you’ll only end us missing what “is” happenning.

  4. This is nothing new, if you make that info public.

    Apparently a large number of people have gotten wise to the whole “hide your info” when using FaceBook that FB is now coming up with ways to make that info more public.

  5. I’ve never been a fan of Facebook. I don’t want to document my life online for all to see, I’d rather socialise with my friends in person. I find most Facebook users are just interested in what I call “pretend fiends” (by this, I mean having as many “friends” on your friends list as possible, even though you never actually see them in the flesh).

  6. The issue with Facebook is that the company (lets not forget it’s a business with shareholders) are subvertively attempting to generate revenue with the data that facebook users provide free of charge.

    Now if users were paid for the use of data on a data access basis “Google Adwords” style then less of an issue as Facebook would be seen to be more upfront about its intentions.

    I personally still would not use it even so as I would guess even on this basis users would have little control over who would be permitted to access the data.

    And there will always be the undesirables in society (or whatever language you choose to use) who find loopholes in the Facebook vetting procedures for granting data access.

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