Facebook as a phone book? #FBFAIL


A recent (and much heralded) update to the Facebook iPhone 3.0 app brought some much needed functionality to the Facebook junkie on the go – access to Facebook events, the ability to ‘like’ content, notes and zoom in on photos.   Yay!

What many did NOT anticipate, however, was the contact update that allows you to call your Facebook friends that list their phone number(s) directly from the updated app.   That’s right, if you have your phone number(s) posted in your profile accessible to your friends/contacts, they can CALL you all easy-like.

Last night, scrolling through the updated Facebook contacts on my iPhone and saw a blue phone icon next to a very famous publisher’s contact info. Assuming it would just go to an office line and an answering machine, I gave it a call – and what do you know…. it was his cell phone. And we chatted. He was a little surprised, as was I.


Lesson learned here – Facebook privacy settings are your friend.   This morning, as you surf the Web, take a look at your ‘Contact Information’ settings and double check who sees what.   Want to share all of your contact info with close friends or family only?   Select the appropriate Friend List and you’re done.

Don’t want anyone seeing your information at all? Keep your settings to private or hey, just keep them blank… unless you’d like a late night phone call from one of the Schipulites too. Talk to you soon?



9 Replies to “Facebook as a phone book? #FBFAIL”

  1. I don't see how this is a failure of Facebook. It is a new capability and the user has the very easy ability to manage access to the information. Those inclined to grade things pass/fail aren't doing the community a service IMO. The benefits of these particular capabilities are about ease of use. If it was difficult to restrict access, I might agree with you, but your post suggests just the opposite is true. Besides, anyone who didn't want to have their phone accessible certainly could have kept their phone number to themselves in the first place, which many users considered a no-brainer.

  2. Maybe I should have been clearer on the #FBFAIL.

    It's a fail on the persons part and Facebook using your all your personal information haphazardly. What happens to the privacy settings created after individuals signed up in the initial days? or default privacy settings for modules like photos that were released after they signed up?


    Their interface is tedious because you have to set privacy settings for each individual piece of your personal info, module, application, etc which leaves a lot of room to hang yourself. Some data should be defaulted to private unless specified by the person. Sheesh. At least protect your clients a little.

  3. Knowledge is power and that's really what this post is about – even the most seasoned Facebook user has a lot of room for error in their privacy settings.

    I agree with you Glen, the fail is two-fold, Facebook for continuing to use and disperse personal data in unexpected ways and users for not keeping an eye out on their settings to anticipate such things – and just to protect themselves in general.

    The longer you've been using the network, chances are the less many folks think about what access other people have to a profile you created years ago – especially if said access was never as big of an issue before. It's not right or wrong – it just is. Even the savviest can slip up and Facebook is there to help them in that all the way.

    Sounds like you just called this Blog post a fail, Dan? Hmmm…. ("aren't doing the community a service IMO") 🙂

  4. a bit hyperbolic no? i mean you could always see the phone number, the app just dials it for ya. The Blackberry App gave this functionality a long time ago. the real lesson is not to make friends with people you don't know and set security accordingly.

    #schipulfail, with love of course

  5. True story Aziz, heh we get a bit more hyper about iPhone updates obviously 🙂 That phone call last night made this issue hit home far more forcefully than ever before – BB or no – so there was a story to be told! #huhthanks?

  6. The mobile-optimized Web site has had a phonebook feature for as long as I can remember, so the risk here is really nothing new.

    I've actually been bit more by *not* having my contact info where others can get it.

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