Facebook grants developers access to user addresses and phone numbers


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Facebook has quietly opened the door for app developers to request a user’s addresses and phone numbers.

The most popular social media site in the world announced the move on its Facebook Developer blog, in a post Friday night by developer liaison Jeff Bowen.


So far, Facebook has failed to mention the change on its general announcement blog for users or any other network-wide methods. The company has dealt with privacy concerns for years, with a focus of criticism being third-party app makers’ access to user data.

For Facebook users, this means address and phone numbers already listed in their profile will be given to a developer who requests such information by way of the ‘Request for Permission’ dialog box that pops up when a user begins the process of adding an application to their profile (pictured above this post).

Users have the ability to not share their numbers and addresses with an app, as long as they choose ‘don’t allow’ when an app dialog box pops up. But usually, if a user doesn’t allow an app access to his or her information, he or she won’t be able to use the app.

The dialog box doesn’t look much different from the basic permissions dialog box used in the past. The difference is simply that a couple lines of text have been added: ‘Access my contact information’ and ‘Current address and mobile phone number’ below it.

The address and phone number information, if requested by an app, would join the usual requests for a user’s ‘basic information’ made by many apps already, including access to a user’s ‘name, profile picture, gender, networks, user ID, list of friends, and any other information I’ve shared with everyone.’

Facebook officials weren’t available for comment on Monday morning on what prompted the move or why a developer would need a user’s address and phone numbers.


[Update 10:47 a.m.: Facebook spokeswoman Malorie Lucich e-mailed this statement to the Times Technology blog:

‘We want to make it easy for people to take the information they’ve entered into Facebook with them across the web. This new permission gives people the ability to control and share their mobile phone number and address with the websites and apps they want to use.’]


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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles