Facebook to Start Sharing Phones, Addresses

Facebook plans on continuing to share user phone numbers and addresses with third-party developers, a company spokeswoman wrote in a seven-page letter to members of Congress released to the public.

The letter released Monday was penned last week by Marne Levine, vice president of global policy and was in response to an 11-point query from the chairs of the Congressional Privacy Caucus, Rep. John Barton (R-Texas) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) sent earlier this month. Both congressmen asked CEO Mark Zuckerberg how user data will be used, what internal policies are in place to make sure developers comply with guidelines, what risks are there to minors and if there will be a clear opt-in and opt-out policy for users who don't want to give phone numbers or addresses to third parties.

From the Levine letter:

We expect that, once the feature is re-enabled, Facebook will again permit users to authorize applications to obtain their contact information. As noted above, however, we are currently evaluating methods to further enhance user control in this area. . . . We have not yet decided when or in what manner we will re-deploy the permission for mobile numbers and addresses. . . . We are also considering whether additional user education would be helpful.

While Facebook didn't outline a time or deadline for the deployment of user phone numbers and addresses, it clearly states it is coming. I can only think that such information would be valuable to advertisers and Facebook has no intention of not profiting from users.

For now, the only defense is for users to tweak their privacy settings and think hard before giving permission to any Facebook app requesting personal information.

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