Posts Tagged ‘privacy’

Facebook outs your phonebook

August 10, 2011

I’ve always been pretty easy on Facebook, letting people share what they want to share and be responsible for the information they post online. People know what they’re posting, and they can be reasonably held accountable for it. I have a few friends – mostly women who’ve had stalkers in their past – change their name on the profile to hide from unwanted attention seekers. Men will apparently do anything to jump at a girl they think is cute, so I don’t blame them. I have a soft spot in my heart for their situation, since they’re pretty powerless against some creep who will do anything in his power to track her down.

Well, my defending of Facebook privacy just ended a half-hour ago. I just found a link to my entire phone book in Facebook and EVERY person who has put their phone number on facebook. Let me repeat that. If you’ve put your phone number in facebook (which is used to verify that your account isn’t fake), and you have EVER given me your number, I can now find your Facebook profile. I have numbers from women I’ve met ONCE and gotten their number, and now I can see their names and any other information on Facebook. Before I say anything else about this, anyone from Facebook reading this, DISABLE THIS IMMEDIATELY. This is completely unacceptable and borders on the worst habits you would expect from cops overstepping their bounds (which doesn’t happen too often – I’m quick to defend officers, as well). To give a step-by-step account of why this is a violation on way too personal a level: If I never gave Facebook my phone number, I’d have to fill in CAPTCHA’s (the box where I have the read the screwed up letters and type them in) a bunch of times when doing common facebook activities. So, I gave them my phone number. Then, I installed Facebook for my smartphone. I didn’t really care at the time, but they make you accept their access to your phone so they can send you background pictures of people who call you from their facebook profile pages.

Well, I’ve been able to go through my list of past phone contacts (even those I’ve deleted), and I’ve seen some names I hadn’t seen before. Of these names, Facebook found about 30-50 people whose number I may have written down once and linked me to their profile, including their full name. For example, I found out that someone I put in my phone as “Jessi [Local Bar Name]” now lives in New York, is friends with a friend of mine, and works for a major retailer. If I was a creepy stalker, that girl could have now had 1) phone calls from me knowing her name, 2) questions from her friend about her or her job, 3) inquiries at her job…. The creepy list goes on. And women face this kind of creepy shit all the time. Facebook, don’t give these people more avenues to harrass people that want to hide their personal lives from the world.

I found a perfect example – I met a girl at the pool in Vegas a few months ago, and we realized we don’t like each other. Now, I know her full name! She never wanted to give me that. By giving me her phone number, she was able to screen my calls and control all the information she allowed me to know. Not anymore! Thank you, Facebook!

More examples, an ex-girlfriend I never want to see again who stopped taking my calls – found her. About 15 numbers (girls and guys) that I never got around to deleting have obviously changed. Unless my old drinking buddy Sean changed his name to Moesha and got a boob job. And I’ve never known anybody named Prettyboy K******.

Let’s take this exercise in invading people’s lives a step further. This means all I have to do is find out a person’s number, put them in my phone, and on the next download, I can find their Facebook profile? Seriously, Zuck?

I’ll be honest, I’ve enjoyed Facebook, because I get to keep up on everybody I can’t otherwise keep up with. Facebook has made high school reunions obsolete, allowed me to see pictures of my family without flying back to New Orleans, let me see my best friend’s house and new kid in Austin, and all kinds of truly wonderful things. But these people volunteered ALL of this information. Please don’t allow me to peek behind others’ veil of privacy without their permission. It’s disrespectful at least and harmful and dangerous at worst.

I’m not mentioning my phone type or the link to this “feature” / invasion of someone’s life, for fear of stalkers tracking down my friends or yours.