Thursday, October 7, 2010

New Facebook Privacy Issue and It's a Doozy

Until recently you could only really mess up your own life if you didn't pay attention to Facebook's privacy settings. Now Facebook gives its users the ability to destroy all of your friends' and family's and acquaintances' privacy.

The new Facebook iPhone app gives users the option to upload their entire contact database to Facebook, including names, email addresses, phone numbers and photos. So, without your permission or knowledge, somebody --even just a casual acquaintance-- can send that information to Facebook, reports The Guardian.

Facebook warns iPhone users about this before the app syncs your contacts with Facebook's servers, but we all know how many people pay attention to privacy warnings. Who's going to track down everyone in their address book and ask, "Is it okay to upload your contact information to Facebook?" Nobody is:  People are just going to click "I Agree" and be done with it.

The app uploads private information regardless of whether somebody is a Facebook member.

One person commenting on the Guardian's story expressed his concern this way, "I've scrupulously avoided Facebook or any social networking sites after receiving death threats when a patient of mine died during medical treatment. This seems to suggest that my personal data could escape, via my iPhone contacts, into databases that I would not consider joining. It's the difference between consent and abuse."

Facebook says the private information about others that's being uploaded without permission isn't made public.That's assuming that 1) people's Facebook accounts aren't hacked, 2) Facebook remains a benign god, 3) the information isn't subpoenaed by court order, or 4) some software bug doesn't accidentally reveal your phone number and email address.

In other words, your private phone number, your email address and your photo will exposed to the world in some way or other on day, whether you want it to or not.

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