back to article Facebook phone app attempts to seize ALL YOUR MAIL

Facebook has found an innovative way to encourage use of its email service: reach into users' mobile phone address books and change the email addresses stored against each contact to their Facebook email account. It has emerged that Facebook's war on competing services now extends beyond the manipulated Timeline and into punters …

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FAIL

FB = FaceBork, Fut Bucker?

Epic.

Freaking.

Fail.

Wonder if this falls afoul of computer misuse act, etc. They changed data on the user's phone without notice or permission, may have lost valuable contact info... If you only had their email, they have a FB account but don't log in regularly... Oops!

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Computer misuse

Does this not fall under the computer misuse act -- aka hacking ?

If this happens to phones in the UK does this mean that we get the chance to extradite Zuckerberg from the USA to stand trial ?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Computer misuse

UK needs to invent a prison like GTMO in Cuba before they extradite him

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Re: Computer misuse

I was thinking exactly the same thing. File some criminal charges and demand extradition. People would soon learn this this kind of manipulation for purely commercial ends is unacceptable.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Computer misuse

"UK needs to invent a prison like GTMO in Cuba before they extradite him"

Last time I looked the Tower of London is still standing and no doubt has a cell that could be hastily cleared of touristy flim-flamery.

I'll be setting up a stand selling tomatoes, somewhere within chucking distance of the cell window I think.

Or we could just banish him to Tristan da Cunha.

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404
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Re: Computer misuse

Why would you feed Fuckerberg?

Rocks maybe, tomatoes? No.

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Re: feeding

But what if they were Killer Tomatoes?

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404
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Re: Bars

prisons have them.

Splatter.

;)

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Re: Computer misuse

Tristan da Cunha, yes but the Government of St. Helena sponsors the internet so it is only fair you give them warning. Oh, and penguins would have to abandon formal wear in favour of hoodies. Of course he'd have the option of swimming home, we are not barbarians.

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Pint

Re: Computer misuse

While you have him, figure out some way to KEEP him there... or send him to the South Pole and drop him by parachute in the middle of winter down there.

It's wine o'clock somewhere...

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Stop

Re: Computer misuse

Computer Misuse Act, 1990. Section 1

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1990/18/section/1

Unauthorised access to computer material.

(1)A person is guilty of an offence if—

(a)he causes a computer to perform any function with intent to secure access to any program or data held in any computer [F1, or to enable any such access to be secured] ;

(b)the access he intends to secure [F2, or to enable to be secured,] is unauthorised; and

(c)he knows at the time when he causes the computer to perform the function that that is the case.

(2)The intent a person has to have to commit an offence under this section need not be directed at—

(a)any particular program or data;

(b)a program or data of any particular kind; or

(c)a program or data held in any particular computer.

Possibly section 3 as well, but that may depend on the EULA

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1990/18/section/3

I must admit, I deleted the Facebook App sometime ago and despite their nagging website I refuse to install it.

IANAL - I wish I was though!

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Re: Computer misuse

I think that anything an app is doing without specific permission most certainly counts as hacking. Overwriting data without asking is aggravated hacking.

I smell a class action suit

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Re: Computer misuse - EULA

"Possibly section 3 as well, but that may depend on the EULA"

I don't think that EULAs can be used to absolve a person of criminal responsibility.

I can try adding a clause in the next bit of software I write to give me the power to break into the users home and mess up their stuff, but I don't think it will stand up in a court of law when I'm tried for breaking and entering.

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Devil

Re: Computer misuse

Nope,

Did you read your shrink wrap agreement where you gave them permission to do this ?

The only way to avoid this is to not have a FB account in the first place.

Never had one, never will.

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Re: Computer misuse

A better idea: Since this is *corporate* mis-behaviour, get a court to add facebook to the same blacklist that was used to block pirate bay in the UK.

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Wow. Their deception and contempt for their users really has no bounds does it?

I also had a carrier locked install of Facebook on my mobile. This was the sole reason that drove me to root my handset and destroy this work of evil. And my phone is running twice as good on a Custom ROM :-)

I wonder what line in their T&C's permit them to make changes to personal data on a personal mobile device that is completely unrelated to the FB App or FB service? Sounds like an offence under the Computer Misuse Act (or the US version) - unauthorised access to and modification of data. Even if this is allowed through their T&C's my next thought would be - unfair contract terms. What about damages for loss of this data, and who's going to re-populate the original email addresses?

OK we're not exactly short on examples, but yet again FB prove they treat their users with utter contempt. I'll give it a couple of weeks until FB say sorry, didn't mean to, and won’t happen again. Only so they can do something equally insidious 3 months later. And so the cycle repeats, as we have seen time and time again. It's time for FB to die. But even if millions of their users close their accounts to protest, welcome to problem number two. That deactivating an FB account doesn't delete any the data they have on you, so they can still carrry on profiting from selling your data (albeit perhaps anonymised).

FB is nothing but one of the biggest data scams in modern history. The thought process must have gone like this... "Hmmmm personal data is valuable. We can profit from this. But how do we get people to handover their sex, age, interests etc? I know, let's call it social networking, where under the rouse of staying in touch with friends, we'll get people to hand this stuff over to us freely"!

AND IT WORKED! 900 MILLION PEOPLE FELL FOR IT!

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Pint

Re: Wow. Their deception and contempt for their users really has no bounds does it?

Jaycee,

"AND IT WORKED! 900 MILLION PEOPLE FELL FOR IT!" is simply a brilliant (albeit humorous) observation. El Reg, I'd like to nominate this for quote of the year.

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WTF?

eek!

Step 1. Backup contacts (just in case)

Step 2. Launch PDroid, select Facebook, deny access to Contacts.

And I concur above, if this happens in the UK, it probably comes under the computer misuse act, as they are essentially changing something that it's theirs.

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Re: eek!

'that it's theirs' = 'that isn't theirs' even!

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Big Brother

I was going to install the Facebook app until it said that it wanted access to the phone's "Contacts". I can see absolutely no technical or functional requirement for that -- after all, you can use Facebook on the same device through a web browser without "Contacts".

I very much do not want people's mail addresses and phone numbers to leak into the Facebook environment, so I won't install that app on my phone.

However, reading the CNET article, there are a couple of mentions of synchronizing phone contacts from Facebook contacts before these changes, suggesting that it's the existing issue of your Facebook contact info being overwritten with @facebook addresses, which you then (voluntarily!) export to your phone.

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I've noticed when installing apps that almost everything demands access to almost everything, often for no apparent reason. I don't know of this is also the case for users of iPhone or the five people who own Windows phones, but it seems to be how it works on Android. I suspect that, with most of what I install being free, all those apps are loaded with spyware. That is what droidwall is for.

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Mushroom

Simple

Everyone who has the FB app screwing with their contacts should immediately begin a small claims suit for the maximum amount allowed by their local laws. IIRC, here in California it's around $10,000. Do not join a class action, make FB defend itself in several million individual suits. Yeah, yeah, T&Cs blah, blah, blah, they still have to respond to each suit and maybe death, or at least being slapped silly, by a few million cuts will "learn 'em a thang or two".

Icon is only for the little mutha Zucker.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Simple

I upvoted your post because I think the sentiment is good, but I fear that the bottleneck will be the speed of the Court not FB's capacity to pay lawyers :-(

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Re: Simple

Lawyers aren't allowed in small-claims court, are they?

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Happy

Re: Simple

"Lawyers aren't allowed in small-claims court, are they?"

No, no they aren't. Muhwahahaha!

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Does anyone know *definitively* if the FB app is doing this as a matter of course, or only when you resync contacts in the app? For example, I've noticed that it only updates profile photos when you sync contacts and even then there's the option to not over-write.

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FAIL

Also affects WebOS devices...

At least I'm seeing it on my Palm Pre2 from Verizon.

...brig

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I do use Facebook

and event the android app, but I'd never ever sync my address book with facebook, my non facebook using friends would kill me for giving their mail and phonenumber to Zuckerberg.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I do use Facebook

Of course, as many pieces of Android malware have already demonstrated Facebook could easily work round whatever permissions lie between their app and your address book. Google may well have fixed that bug, but I bet there's millions of older devices out there that are still vulnerable.

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Thumb Up

Re: I do use Facebook

You are a wise man. But a lot of idiots happily abuse their contact's data (phone numbers, email addressess) by giving them away to every spammer and every dodgy app in the world.

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Coat

As Mark Zuckerberg once said

All FB users are dumbf*cks.

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Megaphone

Only users have enabled syncing from Facebook are affected

From what I read this only affects people who have chosen to sync their contacts from Facebook.

The default, in iOS at least, being off (no sync). It's not enough to have the app installed.

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Re: Only users have enabled syncing from Facebook are affected

Useful information, thank you!

Until of course FB choose to forcefully enable contact syncing, given the amount of history they have in making arbitary setting changes on an opt-out after it's happened basis without any prior consent.

Hmmm, so legally, I suppose FB could argue that a user willfullly enabling contact syncing gives them user consent to to process a mobile phonebook - but I wonder if that consent could be deemed to include including modifying the phonebook contents...

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Below is an FBI quote from today's El Reg article on the guy who hacked Scarlett Johanssons email:

"In most cases, Chaney accessed the administrative settings on the victims’ accounts so that all of their emails would automatically be forwarded to a separate email account that he controlled."

Is this not exactly what Zuckerberg has just done?

The prosecutors in that case are asking for 6 years in prison. It would have been more if he had shown any intention to make use of the information...

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Joke

I think it means ...

... we'll take your naked pictures of Scarlett Johansson and substitute naked pictures of The Zuck.

Six years in prison or a lifetime of therapy.

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Anonymous Coward

explains something...

I wonder if it does something similar on a pc, I installed FB as a mess-about one evening. Im pretty damned sure I told it to not look anywhere and a few visits later its popping up not only my family but old flames that I hadn't seen in over 10 years.

How the fook does it know this stuff?????

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Anonymous Coward

Re: explains something...

Possibly members of your family and "old flames" allowed facebook to slurp their contacts lists. Farcebook lives by building webs of connections to exploit. You personally don't have to do anything, as long as someone who knows you did something, the web will be extended.

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FAIL

I'm assuming this is screw-up, rather than conspiracy. It's an unintended consequence of shoving their crappy Facebook email onto everyone's page. Compounded by arrogance, and the usual lack of testing.

I assume they don't do testing, given the quality of their mobile apps. And what they laughably call their user interface...

After all, they slurped the data out of people's address books ages ago. So I'm sure the last thing they want to do is draw attention to it.

What a bunch of arses!

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Anonymous Coward

Conspiracy, not screw-up?

I don't think Facebook actually allowed users to export their friends' e-mail addresses prior to this, which means that they must have deliberate added code to replace everyone's e-mail address to their phone app. That screams conspiracy to me.

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Anonymous Coward

Calm down people

This is just Facebook's reply to last week's Google massive FAIL on Google+ Events launch that produced hundreds of spam messages.

Facebook just wanted the attention now. As we all know there's no such thing as bad publicity.

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Thumb Down

I Hate Facebook

...and I hate the way that most youngsters can't seem to live without it. It is especially annoying when row after row of smartphones light up a cinema, with dopey teenagers sending their tedious messages to each other, even after a movie has started. I suppose I should feel sorry for them and their wretched chavvy lives, but – thanks to Zuckerberg – he's made a monster out of me and I want to thump his hapless victims nonetheless.

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Big fail

Wooohooo, changing people's data behind there backs, now there's a way to piss people off!

In the UK the law says that a company must securely store data within the limits of the permissions given by the data owner, must correctly process the data and must ensure that the data is accurate. Changing recorded email addresses, especially in a database that distinctly isn't Facebook's (i.e. the address book on your phone) is breaking the law in several ways, all at once! Even if their T&Cs say they can that'd likely be judged to be an unreasonable condition.

Expect things to get worse than this foul up. Now that they've got angry shareholders to placate with profits and rising share price they're going to have to find every which way of extracting more data. Of course, the more they do this sort of thing the more likely it is that they'll lose members, just like MySpace did.

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FAIL

Yet another reason to just get the hell away from F**kbook. You don't need it, it is pointless and it will just screw you in the end.

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Anonymous Coward

"Yet another reason to just get the hell away from F**kbook."

I think you'll find that F*c*book is the accepted method of censoring the vulgarity.

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Phew!

My new Android phone arrives tomorrow, my first smartphone- glad I read this story when I did.

<exit smug mode>

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Redirect facebook to 127.0.0.1

If you want to stop Facebook dead in its tracks - edit the hosts file (needs root access on linux or android, admin user on windows) and add lines like

127.0.0.1 facebook.com

(do this for all facebook web addresses that you want to block)

This will prevent any application on the device connecting to facebook.

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Thumb Down

Side effect?

Who wants to bet this is a side effect of their recent "land grab" of changing everyone's published contact details within their own site.

I'm hoping it is, and then hoping that the engineers "looking into" this issue decide that the only solution is a "roll back" of the contact details changes....

Oh look, a flying pig...

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Terminator

Engage smug mode

Facebook?

Hell no.

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Facebook suicide

I love the smell of napalm in the morning...

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