Just before the weekend, Facebook announced that it had expanded the information users are able to share with external websites and applications, to include home addresses and mobile phone numbers.
This enables developers of e.g. an ecommerce site to more easily fetch the address and phone number of a potential customer to streamline the checkout process.
For the record: users needed to explicitly opt to share this data before any application or website could access it, and they were evidently not able to share their friends’ addresses or mobile phone numbers with applications.
This morning, Facebook announced that it has temporarily disabled the sharing feature, looking to relaunch it in the next few weeks after making some changes.
Facebook dubs these future changes ‘improvements’ repeatedly, but of course the company is responding to the wave of criticism it has received for quietly releasing the new sharing feature, on a Friday evening no less.
Here’s how Facebook puts it:
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.
No doubt, much of the changes it will need to make revolve around the way it asks users for permissions. Sharing a home address and/or mobile phone number isn’t something its 600 million or more users should be able to do without thinking things through a little.
It’s Facebook’s responsibility to explicitly warn users about the risks involved.