Facebook U-turns on addresses and mobile numbers

Social notworking site Facebook has made another spectacular U-turn after it tried to allow application developers access to user mobile numbers and addresses.

In an update last Friday, the outfit seeded an update which would allow applications to share users' personal information with shopping sites and the like.

Following what Facebook insider Douglas Purdy describes in a developer blog post as "useful feedback", and the rest of the world would call, "an angry flood of of complaints from users and a number of stern warnings from security experts", Farcebook has decided to "temporarily disable" the feature.

"Over the weekend, we got some useful feedback that we could make people more clearly aware of when they are granting access to this data. We agree, and we are making changes to help ensure you only share this information when you intend to do so. We’ll be working to launch these updates as soon as possible, and will be temporarily disabling this feature until those changes are ready," wrote Purdy.

Facebook has been at the centre of a slew of privacy scandals recently as it increasingly struggles to monetise the spectacularly popular, though as yet unprofitable, social site by exposing user data to those seeking to make commercial gains.

The latest money-making scheme came under fire from security outfit Sophos which said, "Shady app developers will find it easier than ever before to gather even more personal information from users. Bad guys could set up a rogue app that collects mobile phone numbers and then uses that information for the purposes of SMS spamming or sells on the data to cold-calling companies."

The biggest problem with Facebook's latest scheme is that, although users have to actively give permission to share the information, that decision is made at the time of installation. Once you have the application up and running, and find out that it's just a crock of data-farming spamware, your details have already been sold on to the highest bidder and it's all too late to change your mind.

Facebook says it is rethinking how the process of sharing mobile numbers and addresses - which could be useful if you want to get alerts via your mobile phone for instance - can be implemented without exposing 500 million hapless users to Internet wrong 'uns.

As always, our advice is, if you don't want the world to know about it... don't put it on Facebook. Ever.