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Today I learned Facebook imports your phone numbers from your mobile phone's address book, sometimes without your knowledge, thus making the private phone numbers of ALL of your contacts (not just your Facebook friends) available to Facebook.

(You can see your own phonebook contacts by going to https://www.facebook.com/friends/edit/?sk=phonebook, where it will also tell you how to remove your mobile contacts and to disable the feature on your mobile phone.)

Not sure my friends or family would appreciate me making their personal contact information available to Facebook and its users.

In discussions on Facebook today, a story in The Guardian came up, and it's led to a great deal of concern. The long and short of it is that if you're running the Facebook app, on your iPhone or on an Android device, it seems that there's an excellent likelihood that the app has (possibly without your knowledge, and possibly without your consent) uploaded the phone numbers of everyone in your personal address book.

After reading the story, I went and checked the "Phonebook" page and what I found was distressing: indeed, every single contact in my iPhone's address book, between 1,500 and 1,600 had been uploaded to Facebook. This included a number of confidential, business-related numbers that were still in there from my last employer.

I wasn't actually interested in "sharing" these. Very "radical transparency".

Even more distressingly, when I checked on my iPhone, the "Sync Contacts" feature was turned off, as I thought it would be. We've verified similar behavior in the Android version of the app...

What's possibly worse, is that I'm seeing people in "my phonebook", with phone numbers, and I have absolutely no idea at all who they are. I'm being invited to add them as a friend, but maybe I'm being encouraged to just, I dunno, give 'em a call first...? This is crazy. Is my personal number, or yours, now showing up in the Facebook "phonebooks" of random strangers? That's transparency that's just a mite too radical for me. I'm sure every freak stalker on the Internet is thanking Mark Zuckerberg and his pals, though.

Is the Facebook App Playing Fast and Loose With Your Personal Data?

What did you learn recently?


Original posting by Braincrave Second Life staff on Aug 16, 2011 at http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=624

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