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How Creepy do Facebook Apps Need to Be?

New Facebook App Access - The Anti-Social MediaEvery time I get comfortable with how creepy Facebook is, they go and do something to make it even creepier.

On Friday at 9pm EST, Facebook announced on their developer blog that they would allow applications to ask for permission to a user’s address and mobile phone number.

You know it’s really creepy news when they release access to your home and your phone on the Developer blog on a Friday evening.

Before you get too unsettled, Facebook apps can only access this information if you list it, and even then, you have to give permission to the app to do it. Also, it can’t access your friends’ addresses. Still, I think this is a permission that’s just slimy.

How many times does the average Facebook user install an app without even reading the terms of it? How many times a week do you see your “friends” who’ve been hacked by a malicious app post on hundreds of walls? What on earth will developers even use this for?

I’m sure there is some app someone has in mind that is practical, safe, and a completely cool way to use this information that is beneficial to users, but I can’t think of that. I think of all the users who plow through terms of service screens and prompts just to get to the thing they want. These are your friends who are constantly spreading crap and clicking any link. The last thing we need is for an app to give your home address to the horrible people out there who make spam and exploitation apps.  If you thought getting e-mails from the “Nigerian princes” was fun before, just wait until they can call your cell phone or show up at your doorstep. Yeah, that’s going to be really fun.

I’m sick of this type of sleazy, slimy behavior from Facebook. They preach about connecting the world into a huge, global community, but they don’t seem to care about protecting the people within their own system. They release this development on a weekend evening so it won’t be picked up as much and it won’t get discussed.

There are already a lot of horrible news stories online about what people do when they see things on Facebook. It’s only a matter of time before this makes the news for else that’s terrible.

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8 Responses to How Creepy do Facebook Apps Need to Be?

  1. Rob January 17, 2011 at 10:31 am #

    The scariest part is that we have become so comfortable with throwing our information out there and just expecting that nothing bad can possibly happen by doing so. I decided a while ago, after getting a random text from a creepy girl I refused to give my phone number to, that I would not be providing that information on Facebook anymore. Until the masses stop freely handing over their information for use by these companies, I don’t think we’ll see an end to the pushing of the limits. If it wasn’t already there, they couldn’t creep upon it.
    Honestly, your comment about the Nigerian Prince showing up on my doorstep gave me the creeps. The emails were bad enough. There’s actually a story online about a guy who led one of those emails on and on and actually ended up making money off the scam himself. Epic win.

    • Jay January 17, 2011 at 4:39 pm #

      Lucky him. I’d probably have my left thumb cut off before I ever got a dime out of anyone.

  2. Dino Dogan January 17, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

    This is why I think niche versions of Facebook will become more prevalent in the next year or so.

    Facebook will go the way of friendster/myspace, its only a matter of time.

    Which will open the field for corkd.com (Gary Vee’s wine site), 2wheeltips.com (facebook for motorcyclists with heavy educational slant), and even social video sites like fluttrs.com (video twitter on steroids).

    I think these kinds of shenanigans will be Facebook’s undoing. I say good riddance.

    • Jay January 17, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

      The trouble with niche networks is every doesn’t want to join 50 networks. The other issue is that a lot of the niche networks I see now require Facebook connect.

      Ugh, it’s a catch-22. No way better solution, but staying is almost just as bad.

      • Dan Cristo January 20, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

        Niche networks are dumb if their only registration method is Facebook connect. Having Facebook connect as an optional method makes sense to me, because then you’re giving facebook members a speed pass, but at the same time you don’t rely on Facebook for that functionality.

        As a web developer, Facebook Connect is great. I can access profile information from users that they wouldn’t normally share, and more importantly I an check if new members have existing friends on the site.

        As an internet user, there is no way I would ever use Facebook Connect to log into websites. What happens if I get rid of my facebook account, do I now lose access to my favorite sites too? No thanks.

  3. Lisa January 17, 2011 at 3:12 pm #

    I am always shocked to see how many people actually fill in their telephone numbers! I have an Android phone and find it weird to see people’s number in my synced call list. If it is for business, ok, but otherwise, if you don’t want people to start calling you then just do add it.

    • Jay January 17, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

      I recently listed it when I got the new Facebook messages. When I realized they were only going to send me texts of things I got notifications for on my iPhone, I got rid of that madness.

      I figure if I need someone’s phone number I can ask them. They’re my ‘friend,’ right?

  4. Dan Cristo January 20, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

    By the way. Facebook doesn’t delete your phone number, even if you delete your FB account. I left a video blog about this: http://fluttrs.com/dancristo-58-911 (hope nobody minds the link)