Here’s the email I sent to Consumerist about the situation. I decided to post it here on Skepchick in case anyone else was thinking of giving Facebook their cell phone number:
Facebook just published my cell phone number on my profile without my permission. To give an idea of how much that sucks, know that I have 2,200 “friends”, since I have a high-traffic web site and a popular podcast, so I add (pretty much) everyone who says they’re a fan. For that reason, I’ve always kept my private information off the site, except for a catch-all email address.
What happened: Today, I noticed that my Facebook status was not being updated with my Twitter updates (they’ve been linked for many months now). I logged on to Facebook to update my status manually, but was stopped by a Captcha request. The pop-up explained that this was to stop potential spammers, and that if I wanted to avoid future Captcha requests, I could verify my account so Facebook would know I’m a real person.
That seemed fair enough, and I’ve gone through similar steps on other sites with no problem. I clicked on the “more info” link, read everything to be confident my information would remain private, doublechecked to make sure it was actually Facebook asking for the info, and then went ahead and entered my number. I got the text, entered it, and “verified” my account. At no time did I manually change my profile information.
A few hours later, I received a message on Facebook asking if that was really my number on my profile. That’s when I saw that my number had been made public, and an update had been sent to all my Facebook friends saying that I had entered my phone number.
I’ve no idea who got the number before I deleted it. I’ll be changing my number soon in order to avoid prank calls and crazy stalkers and well-meaning fans, which is going to be a huge pain. Mostly I’m just shaken and upset that the site would do such a stupid thing with personal information, and am now weighing my options about shutting down my profile, which would be a shame since I find it so helpful to keep in touch with both friends and fans.
I thought that since Consumerist started the ToS uproar, you may be interested in this, and I’d be interested to known if anyone else has had this happen to them. One of my Twitter followers just posted that his Facebook friend feed is suddenly full of notices from friends adding their cell phones â€“ how many of them know their numbers are public?
Thanks for your great site. I’ll let you know if I get a response from Facebook (my email is below).
And my letter to firstname.lastname@example.org:
Your system just published my cell phone number without my permission. I was asked to “verify” my account to avoid entering a Captcha every time I update my status, and two hours later someone messaged me to tell me that my cell phone number is freely available on my profile page.
Your FAQ says;
Will my phone number be displayed in my profile?
Your number is only shown if you entered the number in your profile contact info. From the Contact tab of the Edit My Profile page, you can determine what contact information is displayed on your profile and who is permitted to see this information.
Please explain how this happened.
Here’s sort of what the screen looks like (similar text but in my case it was in a pop-up window. This is a screenshot I took after removing my phone number from their system. If anyone has an actual shot of what the pop-up looks like, I’d love to see it). Notice the lack of warning that your number is about to be publicized.
So, yeah. Don’t trust Facebook, I guess. Surprise.