back to article Creepy as hell: Facebook developers get to know you better

Facebook has added APIs for developers to access the home address and mobile numbers of users, so FarmVille can see where, as well as who, you are. Permission to access such data must be given through the usual notification system, but with the vast majority of users simply agreeing with everything they're asked, the new …

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Bronze badge

Interesting

So I think that I'll sign up to Facebook and leave the info found here:

http://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/fbi-headquarters

or maybe here:

http://www.usmarshals.gov/contacts/index.html

or, (just because I can't stand Rick Scott) here

http://www.myflorida.com/agency/28/

as my address. And then lock things up tight (hah! 'locked up' and 'tight' don't go well with 'Facebook'!) and not authorise anyone to access my details, and see how long it takes before someone does. The results should be quite interesting.

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Big Brother

Even more reasons to avoid F******k

Why would anyone in their right mind want to give this stuff away is beyond me.

Just say No

Or better still get off that insecure thing called Facebook ASAP. You know it will do you good.

The FB big Brother is really watching you now.

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Anonymous Coward

Makes no difference

If you are on there or not. You only have to have phone/address in a friend's phone who uses the facebook app and your details are uploaded.

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Coat

I would not be so sure

Not having a F***book account may not necessarily be your best lifestyle choice in a world where recruiters try to look you up on F***book before reading your CV or checking your references. Not having a F***book account may not necessarily be your best lifestyle choice if the "backgound checking service" is outsourced to a 3rd party which checks F***book first and if you do not have an account puts you straight into "may have something to hide" category.

Unfortunately, F***book has reached a degree of pervasiveness where you are automatically marked as potential subversive if you refuse to participate.

Signed - known potential subversive refusenik which does not have a F***book account and has no intention to have one. Me coat.

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Big Brother

Facebook access to other peoples details not on Facebook

"You only have to have phone/address in a friend's phone who uses the facebook app and your details are uploaded."

@AC: Wow hold the horses there, what Facebook can upload my details simply from someone (who is a member of Facebook) who happens to have my phone number? Please explain what Facebook can upload, as this is news to me? ... what can they upload?

@Anton Ivanov: "Unfortunately, F***book has reached a degree of pervasiveness where you are automatically marked as potential subversive if you refuse to participate."

That can be argued both ways. e.g. its easy to argue the opposite, For example, I don't want a Facebook account and anyway I see it as a waste of time, so if you employ me, I won't be wasting your company time on Facebook. :) ... (I'll be on The Reg instead! ;)

@"vast majority of users simply agreeing with everything they're asked"

I see the Gene Pool shallow end is causing trouble again. But then they are always part of the problem, as they are too ignorant of how so much personal data can be used to manipulate society. But then the manipulative vitriolic control freak wannabee role model sheep herders in society don't want people to say what I just said. So we get this double problem (repeated throughout history) of the sheep and their herders pushing in one way (always ignorantly towards ever increasing Authoritarianism), whilst a minority of society (who keep up with current events) tries to warn of the dangers and has to look on dismayed at the direction the sheep are ignorantly dragging society. :(

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Coat

@MinionZero

"Wow hold the horses there, what Facebook can upload my details simply from someone (who is a member of Facebook) who happens to have my phone number? Please explain what Facebook can upload, as this is news to me? ... what can they upload?"

Easy. You flesh out your "friends" missing contact info in your Facebook iPhone contacts app. This information, for your convenience and "data-recoverability" is stored on Facebook servers so you have access to your "additional" information whether your on your phone app or the web. Thus, Facebook now has your address and/or phone number, birth date, etc. all of which you falsified or left out intentially in the first place. Quite simple. What's worse, unlike being tagged in a photo, you don't get notified if someone filled out contact info on you.

"@"vast majority of users simply agreeing with everything they're asked"

I see the Gene Pool shallow end is causing trouble again."

While you can sideline this as a "shallow gene pool" issue, it is not. Unfortunately for many, humans are a trusting lot. Just look at punters on Ebay or craigslist. The truth of it is, they're installing the app because they want what the app supposedly does. Does it matter if they have to hit a "Allow" button? Nope. The programs should all be blocked from having access and leave it to the "shallow pool" people to figure out how to enable it post-install. Might work a bit better. Of course, there's always vetting, as mentioned. Finding a balance between helping the most amount of people and inconvenience level is what many companies are struggling with. Just think of UAC on WinVista.

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Big Brother

Non-conformism

Anton,

I agree with you - but then again, being a non-conformist has always been uneasy.

Daniel (another potential subversive refusenik)

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Stop

The customer is king

Remember, Facebook users: you're not the customers. The advertisers are the customers; you're the products.

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Just like television

in that regard.

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Thumb Up

couldn't have put it better myself

title says it all.

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Unhappy

@Adam 54

This is the sheep-shepherd game changer for the Net. The Facebook Green* version of sustainability is to harvest as much wool as possible before harvesting mutton.

Economists make no distinction between mutton and lamb. Government are left wondering why their tax base declines while they serve more citizens. Until they wake up to this fascism-by-proxy there is little that can be done.

* alias Soylent Green

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Badgers

reminds me of the famous words of advice

"If you can't tell who the sucker is, it's you."

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Go

Super

"Permission to access such data must be given through the usual notification system" -- what, the one they mysteriously change every month to share all your stuff with everybody?

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Black Helicopters

There are no Trojans on iOS or in the Mac App Store ?

really?

how would you know? I'm don't think their vetting process is foolproof.

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WTF?

As an aside...

Facebook blog at http://developers.facebook.com/blog/post/446 tells the curious visitor :

As of today, there are 4,442 open bugs in Bugzilla.

Even more reason to avoid them I'd say.

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FAIL

Why have a facebook account in the first place?

Sure I can create an Ian Michael Gumby account. (Or anyone can claiming to be me.)

But why?

Same thing for Twitter. (Since the name starts with Twit, I suspect that's a term used to describe their users...)

I wonder when wikileaks will do a dump of their data?

Oh wait, there's no value in that. Everyone already knows that a Facebook user is already one of Mark Z.'s bitches. (Paraphrasing his alleged quote).

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Happy

Re: Why have a facebook account in the first place?

Simple. I have friends, that's why.

Facebook, evil as it may be, lets me keep in vague touch with them day-to-day and see photos/videos of them and their kids.

Once all your friends are on it, exchanging pictures and chatting away, it's a little churlish to show up late and insist that they all move to something else or you won't play!

Obviously FB know this and capitalise on it, encouraging you to invite friends to the cult at every opportunity. But at the end of the day, you don't HAVE to tell FB where you live... yet.

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I have friends too

And we all have e-mail accounts and real phone numbers.

We also have face to face meetings (those friends who live in the same city.)

So you're willing to give up your online security to get a picture of little billy in Little League?

Sorry, I'm not.

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Thumb Down

Typical luddite response

Firstly, no one uses email anymore. That was so 2000's. Email from people I actually know has dropped to practically zero outside of work.

Secondly, how many times in the past has an in-law/parent/grandparent/dozy friend attempted to email you 500MB of holiday snaps or a 10 minute video of little billy?

Thirdly, phones: yeah great. But personally if my mate called me up especially to tell me his son had just said his first word, or had just managed to go potty all by himself, then I'd think he was a bit odd. It's nice to passively hear about these little snippets of other peoples lives, on your own terms, but I wouldn't want a daily phone call from each of my friends!

Face-to-face meetings are also lovely - but most of my friends have very young families and don't even live in the same country as me - so we don't make it down the pub quite as often as we used to. Plus how many people actually take their photo album to the pub?

As for "online security"... really? Use a different password on FB than you use on other sites. Don't enter anything you'd rather people didn't know. What am I giving up exactly?

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FAIL

@GrahamS

"Typical luddite response"

Yes, only luddites don't like Facebook.

Luddites like say... Tim Berners-Lee.

Most of the people that I know that absolutely refuse to have anything to do with Facebook are extremely technical. All of the barely-able-to-turn-their-computer-on-retards I know love it.

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Happy

Techno Luddites

Yep, perhaps my response should have been "Simple. I have some non-geek friends, that's why."

Yes most of my techy friends dislike Facebook, hate Facebook Connect and regard it all with a healthy suspicion too. But we're still on it and we still use it because our non-technical friends are there.

That's just the way it is.

Facebook is catching Google as the internet homepage - the default way that huge numbers of people interact with the web. It is also threatening to completely squash the floundering OpenID and set itself up as the de-facto standard "Internet ID".

If you don't at least have a dummy FB account to keep track with what they are up to over there then your eye is not on the ball.

If you think there's no point in social networking sites in general, as Mr Gumby appeared to be implying, because hey we have phones, email and photo albums, then you are way out of step with how most normal people are using the web.

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Coat

re: Typical luddite response

"But personally if my mate called me up especially to tell me his son had just said his first word, or had just managed to go potty all by himself, then I'd think he was a bit odd"

It says something about the world we live in that people feel the need to tweet or facebook about their sons first word "as it happens". Rather than enjoy the moment, quickly grab your smartphone and tweet those words, because yes, the rest of the world obviously also thinks YOUR kid is god's gift to the world.

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photo album to the pub

No need, you just require one friend with a smartphone.

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FAIL

No one uses email anymore?

You're a fool if you believe that. Facebook messaging is for morons who have fallen into the zuckfu**'s trance.

Half my info there is bogus, that percentage is about to double.

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FAIL

I'm a fool then

I'm in good company though. Other fools are Nielsen Online, ComScore, the Online Publishers Association, and numerous other bodies that have been reporting figures showing a decline in the use of email and the rise of social networking for years now.

"Two-thirds of the world’s Internet population visit social networking or blogging sites, accounting for almost 10% of all internet time"

http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/nielsen-news/social-networking-new-global-footprint/

(March 2009)

"Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn.. have had significant impact on the Communications category, which saw a 41 percent decline, due to the fact consumers are using Community sites where they can conduct these same activities more efficiently.”

http://www.online-publishers.org/newsletter.php?newsId=556&newsType=pr

(Sep 2009)

"A recent ComScore Media Metrix report shows teen usage of Web-based e-mail dropped 8 percent last year."

http://money.cnn.com/2006/07/26/technology/thirdscreen0726.biz2/index.htm

(July 2006)

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FAIL

Facebook

Facebook is quickly turning into a handy directory of complete morons and ignoramuses you wish to avoid. Simply look up someone you know on facebook, if their profile exists, you know they're a moron / lack common sense. As seriously, if you are still on there by now you either are unaware of the liberties that are being taken with your private data or you are a reckless prat!

Anon 'cus that's bound to upset a few idiots.

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Anonymous Coward

You say fail but it's a win for Facebook.

"Facebook is quickly turning into a handy directory of complete morons and ignoramuses you wish to avoid. Simply look up someone you know on facebook, if their profile exists, you know they're a moron / lack common sense."

I can't imagine a bunch more likely to make impulse purchses, perfect advertising fodder.

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Headmaster

Kind of

Depends on how you deal with your account. I've only added people I really know, and want to keep track of: anyone who I can't be bothered with I accept as a friend and then after a couple of months I remove them.

My account is locked down as tight as possible (excluding bugs of course), so much so, that somebody I sail with said they weren't allowed to add me as a friend even knowing when my email address (could have been a bug)

I have an account because it allows me:

To see what members of my family in Ireland are up to (namely niece & nephew)

To see what friends in Germany are up to.

An easy way to see photos from friends without clogging my Inbox.

What I don't do:

Bad mouth my boss (he's a mate of mine anyway so he knows when I'm pissed off)

Add photos of me pissed, etc.

All it takes is using a bit of common sense, unfortunately that appears to be lacking in today's society. At least you see almost daily reports of somebody seeing the consequences of being an idiot, so maybe things are improving.

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Black Helicopters

You have common sense, but do your friends?

Assuming you do get drunk and silly on occasion or say things you might not want shared with potential employers, I'm not seeing anything preventing your friends from posting embarrassing photos, writing about your political views, etc. And, since you have an account, and they are in your network, it can all be linked back to you. Add to that the fact that google never forgets and you've got some issues.

Yes, I'm paranoid, but maybe not so incredibly so given Eric Schmidt himself has suggested that in the near future children will routinely change their names as they enter the workforce in order to prevent their youthful indiscretions turning up in search results throughout their adult lives.

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Alert

Facebook

Just say no.

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Coat

and why do advertisers or developers need an adress or mobile no?

why do advertisers or developers need your home address or mobile number?

not to provide any legit service on faceache,

the only thing i can see is to sell it on for profit to other ad agencies or address lists, but hold on if you believe all the carp about faceach, then every man and his dog is listed (bar me and a few other sane people and non sheep)

or to link online and offline data to create a mega profile for people

seems like yet another reason (to add to the already massive pile) to not having a faceache account

mines the one without faceache watching me

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Silver badge

Farmville

Now Farmville can sell you fences (good fences == good neighbours). If you don't buy a fence then the neighbour's ram will impregnate your ewes and his goats will eat your magic cabbages.

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Boffin

Same reason Facebook wanted it...

... in case you loose you password? No other reason, of course.

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FAIL

So easy to use, no wonder it's number one™

Facebook Online

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No, bad title, get down.

I thought everybody with a Facebook account provided a false address, date of birth, etc, when signing up, guess it was just me then.

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Anonymous Coward

Not just you

I have done the same.

Anon for obvious reasons

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Unhappy

I did too.. but..

then my friends wished me happy b****day on the day quite promptly and f**ked it up...

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FAIL

Facebook - world's 3rd worst coders

I've got my Facebook Privacy settings locked down as tight as I possibly can, and still be able interact with my 'friends'. The other day, I visited a random website (one that I had never visited before) and it displayed my Facebook details on the bottom of the page. I ran to double-check the Facebook Partners setting, and it was NOT enabled.

I think it's (well past) time to purge any actual personal details.

PS: 1st place: Symantec. 2nd place: MacAfee.

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Unhappy

Having poked around in the development APIs a bit...

Chances are, the website didn't know you were logged into Facebook. The div with that info is bounced off Facebook's servers, and whatever come back is just dropped in. It would take quite a bit of effort to actually get that info back to them.

Then again, it's not impossible... after going through the APIs, I decided never to log in to Facebook in anything but a private session window. Too much chance of the firehose getting pointed at someone I don't know...

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Silver badge

Why?

AC is saying that he had said no to sharing his info with outsiders yet there was his info on a foreign website.

You seem to imply that FB gives out all info and it is up to the receiver to then determine whether or not to use it. If that is the case then FB's security is severely broken. They should not give out records unless you have given permission.

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following on

4th: Adobe

5th: Autodesk

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Boffin

@Charles Manning

Without having seen the goods myself, I'll take a guess and say that what the OP saw was an iframe embedded in the third-party site's page. The iframe contains a page from facebook.com which shows the user's info if they are logged-in (and presumably nothing if they aren't), and is requested by the user's web browser, just as though it were being viewed directly (via the address-bar, bookmark or whatnot) - none of that data goes through the third-party's domain, and (assuming the browser protects itself from cross-site scripting, which most do now I believe) the third party can't read it just because it's nested inside their page.

It's not unlike those forum signature images that did the rounds a few years back, where the image was generated by a third-party server (in the FB role in this instance) and contained your IP address, ISP name and OS. The forum poster using the sig didn't know these details (the forum site did, but not thanks to the sig - your browser told both parties) but if you didn't know what was going on it was a bit freaky, which was the point.

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here's the title, as you wish

No-Script with handcrafted ABE rules is your friend. Mine only lets pages from facebook.com and fbcdn.net send any request to facebook.com.

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Unhappy

Word disassociations: Oil and Water; Facebook and Privacy; Facebook and Security ...

How long does it take to understand that social web sites can be trouble, especially Facebook.

If you have doubts ask those who have been convicted/imprisoned due to Facebook data, or those who have lost job opportunities.

Facebook treats peoples private information as a commodity to be traded, sold or given away. If you value your privacy, don't use them. It's nit that hard - billions around the world don't use FB.

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no privacy is becoming the norm

I noticed with my android apps i'll be installing like a 'whoopie cushion' and the permissions it's asking for is pretty much root on the phone it's ridiculous.

Don't have a facebook, won't have a facebook, don't know when the mAsses wil wake up that the whole reason FB is 'worth' what it is simply is a result of selling their information.

Has anyone noticed that FB doesn't produce anything? They are in the business of selling your info.

It seems alot of people are fine with that.

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The problem with...

... their usual permission prompt is that it basically says, "Do you give them permission to access everything?"

No? Well you can't use the app at all - even if its functionality doesn't require access to the data

Yes? Well you've just allowed them access to everything.

If one could say, "Sure, I give this app permission, but not to details X, Y and Z" ... and then the app could advise in a non-blocking why it needs those permissions.

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Anonymous Coward

Scared as Hell!

I'm going to share this on Facebook!

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Black Helicopters

Just check yourself...

Look up your name on Google. You may be surprised to find that your last 5 home addesses are listed, as well as the names of all your immediate family. All thanks to Facebook and Google.

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Coffee/keyboard

But Why?

I may very well be missing something here, but why on earth would you want to share your home address and phone number with facebook? I cannot imagine an instance where I would want people to be able to freely access my details from the web without my explicit permission each time.

Not wanting to be branded a Luddite as other posters have, but I'm only 27 and I don't really 'get' face book. True most of my friends are on there but I've yet to miss out on any interactions other then 'pokes' and invites to do some sort of virtual farming. If I'm going to do farming I want to eat the produce at the end of it not earn ruddy Facebook points or what ever you get.

*returns the sane world or browsing The Register comments.

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Happy

Tick! Another reason to avoid!

Nice one FB! Every day you give me one more reason to wish your server farm would die and your backup tapes melt!

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