No, this isn't a scam - yes, this is something that might seem relatively bizzarre and completely fake, but is unfortunately 100% true. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but in a recent Facebook update (revealed on the official Facebook Developer Blog), all app developers (that's every single developer - not just a few) now have the ability to access your current address and mobile phone number when you add a new third-party application to your account on Facebook.
This situation is actually a bit complicated, so bear with us. From now on, the "Request for Permission" box that all users see when adding new third-party applications will have a new section entitled "Access my contact information," which lists specifically your current address and mobile phone number. Not every game will have this information being requested - the change here is that application developers can now add that stipulation in. That being the case, when you click "Allow," you are actually giving the developer the right to have this information, but it doesn't have to be that way.
Currently, there doesn't seem to be a way to avoid granting this permission to developers, as Facebook has been the one to grant them access in the first place, however, if you remove this personally identifiable information from your account, then all these developers will have access to is a blank line.
If you're worried that you have this sort of information on your account, which is now free for the taking (who knows what kind of sinister things they could do?), meet us behind the break for a guide on how to find it, and remove it.
First, let's tackle the phone number, as it's likely the one that most users would have. The biggest area of concern will be on your Facebook Account Settings. You can browse there by clicking on Account in the top right corner of the screen and then clicking on "Account Settings" from the drop down menu.
From there, click on the "Mobile" tab at the top of the screen.
Whether or not you have your phone number activated will be pretty obvious, as you will see your phone number, and your cell phone provider listed at the top of this tab. If you've activated this service (receiving text messages when you receive friend requests, wall posts, and the like), removing this phone number will unfortunately remove those text messages as well, but in the interest of your privacy, this is probably a good idea to do. Simply click to remove the number from your account. It would also be smart to refresh the page, just to make sure it saved.
However, if you've never activated a cell phone on your Facebook account, you'll see a line saying "Activate a Phone." You're good to go to the next step.
Your phone number can also be displayed on your public profile, if you've chosen to add it there for your friends to see. Sure, this is convenient for your friends to be able to contact you easily, even outside of Facebook, but again, privacy should come first, should it not?
This phone number and your address can be found and removed in the same location. First, click on the Facebook logo in the top left corner of any screen on Facebook to be taken to the home page (where you read your News Feed). Click on "Edit My Profile," which is underneath your name and beside your small profile picture in the top left corner of the screen.
From there, click on Contact information in the side-menu.
Your home address and mobile phone number (along with any other number) would be shown here, if you have added it to your profile. Simply clear these fields completely, and click "Save Changes" to remove them from your account entirely.
And there you have it! A few simple steps that will remove you from this new threat to your privacy on Facebook. With the backlash that is sure to erupt from this change, we're hoping Facebook will reconsider offering up such important and personal information to developers, but for now, make sure to keep your account safe by following the steps we outlined above.
Do you think it's acceptable for Facebook to be offering this personal information to app developers? Will you stop adding new games to avoid it? Let us know in the comments.