Facebook Shares Phone Numbers, Addresses With Apps

Facebook is now letting third-party apps have phone numbers and addresses of users, but only if they opt in to share the info.

Facebook’s Developer Blog announced the news:

Because this is sensitive information, we have created the new user_address and user_mobile_phone permissions. These permissions must be explicitly granted to your application by the user via our standard permissions dialogs.

Facebook never allowed apps to get their hands on the information before. Apps will be able to submit requests in the form of the pictured dialog box sample that let users decide whether or not to overshare.

Do you think Facebook has taken enough steps to stop people from unknowingly sharing their info? How do you guard your privacy on the site?

Developer Blog [Facebook via ReadWriteWeb]


Edit Your Comment

  1. MutantMonkey says:

    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.

  2. Cicadymn says:

    Yea because that 13 year old girl ALWAYS reads the information to the left. She should, but she wont. Gonna be a lot of pissed people when they start getting phone calls from advertisement groups.

    Probably just in time for dinner too.

  3. Brent says:

    Thmbs dwn fr Cnsmrst rmvng th Blggs rtcl nd th mn rdr cmmnts crtcl f Cnsmrst’s rprtng stndrds f lt. Smpl rsng th rcrd dsn’t slv th prblm.

    • Cosmo_Kramer says:

      ben@consumerist.com is where you want to send that complaint.

      • MMD says:

        True…but in the true spirit of what Consumerist is supposed to be, I think public complaints are warranted here. Shine a light on it so it can’t be ignored. Commenters bite back. Etc.

        • Rectilinear Propagation says:

          I’d argue that OT whiny complaints are junk comments and the exact opposite of what this site is supposed to be about.

    • osiris73 says:

      I hadn’t noticed that. Wow.

    • maruawe says:

      I am not sure exactly you are referring too, But I read this every day and have not noticed that problem.
      Although this is not a site to send your blogging matterial to and or promote your blog.

    • cape1232 says:

      OMG. They really did that. I think this may be my last visit to Consumerist. ;( How could this site, of all sites, think that was the right thing to do?

    • El-Brucio says:

      Wow. While I haven’t had any problems with their reporting standards, deleting the bloggies article over the comments section is rather awful of them.

    • Real Cheese Flavor says:

      And I thought deleting things and hoping they’d go away as a PR measure was only something big, evil corporations did.

    • BettyCrocker says:

      So spamming a forum with another website to get views is something you think should be okay around here?

      That’s great because I too have some websites I want to promote – and I’ll just bet there are a few other people that want to do the same.You don’t mind though – right?

      • Coles_Law says:

        He’s not spamming. The consumerist had an article up asking people to nominate them for the Bloggies. Many people posted complaints there, and the article was pulled.

    • wrjohnston91283 says:

      As of 1/17 at 2PM ET its not removed. I don’t know if they put it back after complaints but it should be noted that the nomination period is over. I think during nomination the post was sticky and always at the top, but now that the nomination period is over its being allowed to fall as newer posts are put up. The post is still up: https://consumerist.com/2011/01/one-day-left-to-nominate-consumerist-for-the-bloggies.html but its not on the front page anymore.

      • Michaela says:

        No. The post was gone this morning. I even did a search of the site for it (so it wasn’t just on another page).

        • cape1232 says:

          I emailed Ben/Chris about this. They put it back. The explanation was, “It was taken down because it made no sense to have the lead post be a call for nominations when the nominations period had ended. Now that newer stories have been posted, the original item has been updated and re-posted.”

  4. YokoOhNo says:

    i cant wait to put in my phone number.

    after listing on the do not call list my fun has diminished immensely! i now look forward to the errant telemarketer that accidentally calls my cell number! it’s a form a therapy for me…his the sheep hard and the people above them will hear it.

    • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

      So you think it’s fun and cool to be an asshole to some schmuck doing a miserable job for minumum wage?

      Do you also set homeless people on fire?

      • seamer says:

        Name one time when you were thinking, “gee, its 7:55pm. I really want some insurance now… whatever will I do? … The phone’s ringing! I hope it’s a marketer!!!”

  5. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    And I suppose there’s no chance this information could accidentally be given, or that permissions could erroneously be made for people who do not want their info given?

  6. Morwen says:

    This is why Facebook does not have my current address or phone numbers, and very little other personal information.

    But not everyone is going to read this information, and not everyone keeps their information as private as I do, so there will be a lot of angry people getting unwanted spam phone calls soon.

    • El-Brucio says:

      Seconded. My address line on FB simply reads “email me for address or phone number”.

      I just don’t trust Facebook with any information at all, and I certainly don’t want an upswing in postal or phone spam.

      • dangermike says:

        Thirded. I used to have my cell phone number in FB so that old friends could look me if needed but after tryign to figure out why I was getting so much text spam, I removed it along with as much personal info as I could and blocked as many permissions as I could find relating to apps and whatnot. It also stopped those occasional bulletins saying “Your friend has answer a question about on XY identify thief data mining quiz application” which seemed like a much more humane solution to the problem than writing old acquaintances out of my life.

  7. UnicornMaster says:

    That’s why i deny almost ALL apps. I keep my phone/email public to my friends, because sometimes they lose that info. But there’s no reason for anyone outside a friend to see that stuff.

    • Rebecca K-S says:

      Agreed. Besides the fact that they all seem to be annoying, I don’t see any reason I should give some random app access to that information.

    • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

      I take the default position that all apps are there to mine information and/or install tracking cookies, so I don’t do any of them.

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        this, and i keep trying to explain to my friends when they email me and say ‘why aren’t you responding to my request to start playing super hippo world mafia zoo circus?’ or whatever this week’s next big thing is.
        and with forced to the new profile i’ve had to remove myself from a whole lot of things my well meaning friends have tagged me in, like their high school history. [i’m being stalked by someone from high school and using a fake name on facebook. i explained this to my friends when i looked them up online]

  8. NightSteel says:


    I like the suggestion at the end of this article: For your phone number, put in 650-543-4800 (FB Customer Service).

  9. Rocket says:

    *checks Facebook privacy settings again*

  10. oldwiz65 says:

    Great way to make it easier for perverts to find underage children and abduct or kill them. Kids (and adults) often click on the default without really thinking. If FB was really concerned they would make the default reply “Don’t Allow”, but they are far more concerned with getting money from apps. Wonder if they have a sliding scale for sale of the info?

  11. Mcshonky says:

    Wait until nancy grace is on screen describing how the abducted child/woman’s address and number were obtained because they made a mistake with their privacy settings………

  12. maruawe says:

    Facebook has a reputation for this type of conduct. Nothing this site does suprises me . thanks but no thanks for putting any type of information on this site……

  13. Rich says:

    Once the application programming interface (API) is made available, then someone will figure out a way to break through and get the information for everyone. Why does anyone give any information to a company like Facebook?

  14. TooManyHobbies says:

    There’s one sure way to make sure that Facebook never gives out your phone number or your address. Don’t give it to them in the first place.

    • Dacker says:

      I 100% agree. I leave almost all those interests blank (books, movies, music,…) as well as my phone numbers and my street address. I do provide just enough info for an old friend or classmate to determine they’ve got the right guy, but nothing which can be used against me (so to speak.)

  15. Plasmafox says:

    I notice that dialog doesn’t have check boxes. You click allow and share all of it or click don’t allow and the app refuses to work period.

    • Rocket says:

      I noticed that too. It’s all or nothing.

    • Terron says:

      Same thing happens with Android.

      You either allow that flashlight app to have access to your contact details, internet access, read your text messages and emails or you don’t run it at all. It sucks.

      • Rena says:

        Yep. Best theory I’ve heard as to why this obvious flaw isn’t fixed is that people would block ads by denying Internet access… clearly having our expensive mobile bandwidth and limited screen space wasted to annoy us is less important than our privacy.

        But then, coming from a group who managed to make a Linux kernel crash frequently, completely at random (e.g. while sitting on a desk not even being looked at), this isn’t very surprising.

  16. t0ast says:

    I’m still appalled that Facebook, in spite of all of these privacy issues, still hasn’t implemented an item-by-item permission dialog yet. Letting every application out there get away with basically saying “give us all of the information we want (even though we don’t need it to function) or you can’t use this at all” is ridiculous. This is why every app I see gets a big fat click on the Ignore/Hide all by… button.

  17. c!tizen says:

    “How do you guard your privacy on the site?”

    by not using it.

    • Red Cat Linux says:


      The sense of a faintly creepy corporate fondling of our information has been dialed up with every new “Facebook Did What Now?” story that comes out.

  18. PsiCop says:

    Prediction: Within 6 months to 1 year, the need for explicit, specific permissions will vanish, and that information will be freely available to apps and developers.

  19. Clyde Barrow says:

    Well I canceled my FB last week. Don’t regret it or miss it. It was fun from 2007 up through 2009 when two of my cousins and I were on it but then the entire fricking world is on it This reminds me when MySpace was cool but that site because a holding ground for porn and prostitutes and just plain freaks. AOL was fun and it was only adults around 1996 but then by 1999, a plethora of kids were getting online. The minute I remember to finally decide to cancel my AOL was when a 13? maybe 14 year girl from Maine IM’d me and asked me about “having some fun”. (That is, if she WAS a girl).

    In the beginning, these sites are a great idea except when the entire world gets in on it and then all the kids and freaks join and it is time to leave.

    • valen says:

      I agree with this sentiment. It seems that whenever a niche technology goes “mainstream”, the “lowest common denominator” and “rape the cash cow” effects kick in and ruins the experience for the technology “pioneers”. I have seen it happen too many times (e.g. EverQuest, LiveJournal, Facebook, the Internet in general) and it always depresses me.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      But you don’t have to be FB friends with the whole world. You don’t have to read anything from people you don’t care about.

      The other millions of people on Facebook don’t bother me because I have no clue what they’re doing.

  20. benjitek says:

    It should be up to the individual within your address book as to whether >you

  21. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    “Facebook is now letting third-party apps have phone numbers and addresses of users, but only if they opt in to share the info.”

    Translation: Facebook is now letting third-party apps have phone numbers and addresses of users, but only if they DO NOT opt OUT of sharing the info.

  22. bduddy55555 says:

    This is what I like to refer to as “Internet Darwinism”

  23. Kestris says:

    I don’t have my address, my phone OR my real name on my Facebook page. Heck, I don’t even ‘claim’ my family members on Facebook, nor do I share photos of myself. My pets, yes, me, no.

    If you don’t want websites to have your phone number or address, then don’t put them on Facebook in the first place.

    And 13 year olds(and all kids) need parents who supervise their activities online in the first place

  24. DeKalb says:

    My phone number is written in the old-style (a word then some numbers) and even if someone figures it out they still don’t have the area code. But they can guess…

    My address is completely fake and impossible.

    My legal name isn’t on there and will never be on there.

    I used to have pics of me for my profile but since a year and a half ago I’ve used other things.

    My hometown and other random information like that is fake, not for security reasons but for fun.

    The people that really need to know that sort of thing already know it, or I will tell them in person. There’s no reason to put that out there. I still don’t understand why people insist on using their legal name and putting real info on there. When I had MySpace the info was even more fake.

  25. nopirates says:

    why the hell would you put your phone number and address on facebook in the first place?

    remove them. problem solved.

    • ellemdee says:

      Except that removing them might be a case of trying to put the genie back in the bottle. I’ve had ads show up specifically targeted at my employer/profession/industry months after I deleted that information from my profile. Once you enter info, you may be able to remove it from the profile that your friends see, but FB has it forever.

  26. Tessa says:

    I think the whole privacy issue is completely moot.
    Not too long ago, one of my FB friends made a post about a new website where you can search people and if it has a listing for that person, it will bring up all kinds of information. Like address, telephone number and your property value. All of which is public information and is already out there.
    On one hand, I don’t freely give out that info, because I don’t want to get spammed but on the other hand, I don’t get upset if some company has it because it’s out there.

  27. ellemdee says:

    I wouldn’t trust FB with my cell number for one second. If you accidentially allow sharing and later go back and deny access, there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle. I deleted most of my info off of my FB profile (work, school, profession, etc.), but I still get targeted ads which spefically call out my profession and industry….so, even if you delete the info alltogether, it’s still retained somewhere, and it’s still being used. I’m tempted to change my profession to circus clown just to see what types of ads I get (when on a computer w/o ad blocking).

    Their latest strategy is to display a warning that my account security is “low” because I haven’t given them my cell phone number yet. You know, for security purposes. Riiight.