Late Friday night, Facebook announced a new round of privacy settings for third-party applications via the company’s developers blog.
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In essence, the changes are minuscule. From now on, users who accept the terms and conditions of a Facebook app will grant that developer access to their mobile telephone number and address, if listed on their profile. This seeks to benefit apps geared more toward e-commerce, one of the company’s largest initiatives for 2011.
Though the request is clearly marked on the app’s pop-up permission box, my guess is most users won’t pause to scan the box for any new terms, simply because most Internet users aren’t trained to do so. We’re not conditioned to read the fine print and instead skip straight to the dotted line as a time saver. Still, can we blame Facebook for our own discrepancies?
It’s clear the company is beginning to cash in on our personal information, one of its greatest potential revenue streams for the future, but the new setting will also mean users run the greater risk of having information farmed by malicious rogue apps. Scams are carefully monitored by the Facebook team, but can usually exist for at least a few days before they’re shut down, meaning that cybercriminals will have time to trick users into downloading the faux app and gaining access to even more personal info that could be used against them.
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The problem is easily fixed by clicking “Don’t Allow” – the application will still work just fine – but without thorough warning and instruction, it’s not likely that a majority of the Facebook body will realize that.