iOS app Android app More

Facebook Does U-Turn On Sharing Home Addresses, Phone Numbers

Mark Zuckerberg

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 01/18/11 08:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 07:25 PM ET

Facebook is temporarily suspending a controversial new policy that enabled Facebook app developers to access users' home addresses and mobile phone numbers.

In a carefully-worded blog posted Tuesday at 2:25AM, Facebook outlined the benefits of the expanded sharing options rolled out the previous week, though noted that the company would be disabling the "feature" for several weeks to make changes to the tool.

"Over the weekend, we got some useful feedback that we could make people more clearly aware of when they are granting access to this data," Facebook wrote. "We agree, and we are making changes to help ensure you only share this information when you intend to do so. We'll be working to launch these updates as soon as possible, and will be temporarily disabling this feature until those changes are ready. We look forward to re-enabling this improved feature in the next few weeks." (Read the full statement below)

Though many argued that allowing third-party developers access to users' addresses and phone numbers put members of the social network at risk for spam, identity theft, and other problems, Facebook plans to embrace the more open policy, while making tweaks that will make it more explicit if a website or developer requests access to users' personal information.

Users must explicitly grant an application permission to use such information. When Facebook originally introduced the change, it planned to display users a pop-up with a line of text--"Access my contact information"--that some said most users would overlook. (See screenshot below)

Internet security firm Sophos warned that the new policy "could herald a new level of danger for Facebook users," noting, "the ability to access users' home addresses will also open up more opportunities for identity theft, combined with the other data that can already be extracted from Facebook users' profiles."

Learn how to remove your home address and phone number from Facebook here.

Facebook's blog post:

Improvements to Permissions for Address and Mobile Number

On Friday, we expanded the information you are able to share with external websites and applications to include your address and mobile number. With this change, you could, for example, easily share your address and mobile phone with a shopping site to streamline the checkout process, or sign up for up-to-the-minute alerts on special deals directly to your mobile phone.

As with the other information you share through our permissions process, you need to explicitly choose to share this data before any application or website can access it, and you can not share your friends' address or mobile number with applications. Also, 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.

Over the weekend, we got some useful feedback that we could make people more clearly aware of when they are granting access to this data. We agree, and we are making changes to help ensure you only share this information when you intend to do so. We'll be working to launch these updates as soon as possible, and will be temporarily disabling this feature until those changes are ready. We look forward to re-enabling this improved feature in the next few weeks.

FOLLOW HUFFPOST TECH