While Facebook hoped that most of the buzz yesterday would be about their new “Groups” feature, there was a lot of negative buzz about reports that using Facebook’s iPhone app could cause all of your contacts and their details to be uploaded to Facebook. Concern swirled that phone numbers might be unintentionally shared and that other people’s information might even be incorrectly added to your Facebook phonebook without your awareness or their awareness. Nick Spence reports:
A spokeswoman for the social network told the Daily Mail: “Only you can see your Phonebook on Facebook; it can’t be seen by anyone else. This is the same as online phonebooks or email contact lists many people already have.”
“People also have the ability to control who sees their contact information through their privacy settings – this includes the ability to make your mobile number visible to only a few select friends or of course you don’t have to include one at all.”
Concerns had been raised by Charles Arthur, a Guardian blogger under the headline: ‘ Is your private phone number on Facebook? Probably. And so are your friends’, and reported by various leading tech sites including ElectricPig.co.uk.
Read more on PC Advisor.
Once again, it seems that Facebook just doesn’t get this privacy thing. If users are under the impression that they have controlled access to their phonebook and are shocked to discover that Facebook has added to that phonebook in any way, Facebook has not been clear enough. Adding a big warning after the community is in a panic is not as good a business model as having the warning there from the git go.
That Facebook users choose to upload their smartphone contacts to their Facebook page is their choice. If any of the phone numbers in their contact list are unpublished numbers or numbers or email addresses that their friends or contact want to keep private, I think that they are at the very least risking their friends’ or contacts’ privacy. And of course, uploading information that your friends intended to keep private to Facebook just puts it at more risk of a hack.
Another day, another “feature,” another reason I don’t use Facebook.