Facebook holds off on controversial address and phone sharing feature

face bookFacebook announced a few days ago that it would offer developers access to users’ address and phone number information. Not surprisingly, that’s sparked a bit of an uproar. Now, according to Facebook’s director of developer relations Douglas Purdy, the company is putting the feature on hold as it works to make the process clearer to users.

Honestly, I’m surprised Facebook didn’t see this coming. The feature was announced on its developer blog on Friday, and it was accompanied by several other platform improvements. Much like the company’s failed Beacon feature, which shared Facebook user activity from external sites, sharing such personal information as user addresses and phone numbers seems like a good idea from a developer perspective, but it’s the sort of thing that freaks out general users.

Either the company was blind to the potential for user uproar, or it figured it could sneak in the feature without users noticing.

Purdy points out that users have to explicitly choose to share their personal information with third parties, and they can always see what information they’re sharing via Facebook’s Application Dashboard. But he agrees the company needs to do more to explain the process to users:

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. We look forward to re-enabling this improved feature in the next few weeks.

We’re not free of the feature yet, but at least Facebook’s requests to share your information will likely be improved over the coming weeks. In particular, I suspect Facebook’s “Request for Permission” dialog box, which currently pops up whenever you choose to share information with third parties, will get some sort of facelift.

Image via Massimo Barbieri


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