Have you ever really paid attention to what information an application is requesting? While I’m singling out Facebook and Android in this article, please think about any applications you’ve added to your smart phone, as the same applies.
For example, in the latest update of Facebook for Android, they have added yet another permission – they want the information of every other application you’re running on your smart phone. This is just one in a long list of information they already collect, such as your precise location, the number you’re connecting to when on a phone call, and as the ability to read and modify anything in your contacts list. There is also the ability to call phone numbers without your intervention (possibly resulting in charges if the number dialed is outside of your network) and to take photos with your camera without your permission.
You can see the full list of Facebook application permissions you’ve authorized at the Google Play store (click on the Permissions tab at the top left of the page).
It might be a good time to go through the Google Play store (or iPhone store, based on your smart phone) and review the permissions you’ve authorized for each of your installed applications, and with all future installations you should make a practice of reviewing the permission settings.
I would really like to see a few changes from Google, most notably the user should be able to choose which permissions to allow or not. A user should not be required to have to accept all possible permissions, especially those that are only required for special use cases. Obviously if the permission was core functionality it would notify the user that by turning off this functionality and the application will no longer work as intended.
For example, I should not have to give Facebook my location, coarse or precise. It is not needed for the core functionality, and only if I choose to use certain features like Facebook places. Only once a user requests this specific functionality should this private information be revealed.
Similarly, I would speculate most Facebook users would not want, let alone are they even aware, that Facebook can modify people in their phone’s address book.