Facebook backs down on data sharing plans
Negative feedback from users forces rethink
Facebook has been forced to disable a new feature which gave third party companies access to people’s personal mobile phone and address details.
The social media site says it has “temporarily” scrapped the feature after just three days in operation following negative user feedback that it had not been properly explained and warnings from security experts over possible abuse.
The feature gave Facebook users the option of giving permission to access their details to third party application developers, who could then access the programming interface on Facebook’s platform.
Facebook had said before taking the feature down that enabling developers to request permission to access a person’s address and mobile phone number would make applications built on social media site more useful and efficient.
Internet security company Sophos warned that many Facebook users click through permission dialogue boxes without paying attention and that the feature might make life easier for the developers of rogue applications, and could increase the possibility of identity theft.
In a statement on its webiste Facebook said it is currently working to launch updates to the feature and hopes to re-enable an improved version “in the next few weeks”.
Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said that the Facebook feature was not as drastic as it might first appear, because users will need to give permission for third-party Facebook applications to access this data.
However he added: “But it still sounds like a recipe for disaster, given the prevalence of rogue scam applications already on Facebook – all of which benefit from apparently being blessed by the Facebook name and brand.”
Clulow said that Facebook is already plagued by rogue applications which solely exist to post spam links to users’ walls, point users to survey scams that earn them commission – and sometimes even trick users into handing over their mobile numbers to sign them up for a premium rate service.