Calling up a bit of controversy

Brace yourselves - Facebook privacy might be back in the headlines. After last year's spats over the privacy of friend lists, page likes and group memberships, Facebook might have decided to be ultra-careful. But it doesn't look like it.

The developers of Facebook applications have access to lots of different bits of users' data - at least, if users give them access. That includes friend lists, likes, and, since a few months ago, email addresses.

Now, though, they're taking it a step further. They're going to allow apps to acess users' home addresses and telephone numbers.

Now, before everyone freaks out, there are potential good reasons for this. Facebook would love for telephony services like Skype to use Facebook to manage their contact lists - indeed, many believe Facebook would like one day to be the source of people's phonebooks on their actual phones. These tools could be genuinely useful, but to make that happen widely apps have to be able to request access to telephone numbers. (Addresses is harder to figure out.)

Facebook has rules against apps passing users' data on to third parties, but that hasn't stopped a lot of people worrying about the privacy implications of this move. 'I think it is the equivalent of handing your ID to an anonymous telemarketer somewhere in the world,' one writer at ZDNet said. 'Ever order something and had your address or phone number sold?'

The firm points out, though, that users will have to approve each app's access to the data. Critics respond that people usually click out of that screen without paying attention.

What do you think - do you trust Facebook to manage this? Or are you going to run a mile?

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