Just before the weekend, Facebook announced that it would begin allowing third-party applications and websites to request that users share both their mobile phone number and address. Now, the company has said that it will be putting the new feature on hold while it makes changes to make sure that Facebook users are aware of the potential for data sharing.
Douglas Purdy, director of developer relations, just posted on the Facebook developer blog to explain that Facebook agrees with its critics that the feature could be better implemented and the company will be pulling it until changes are made.
"Over the weekend, we got some useful feedback that we could make people more clearly aware of when they are granting access to this data. We agree, and we are making changes to help ensure you only share this information when you intend to do so. We'll be working to launch these updates as soon as possible, and will be temporarily disabling this feature until those changes are ready. We look forward to re-enabling this improved feature in the next few weeks."
Purdy was just hired last November to "improve Facebook's relationship with the community." This move will not only help with Facebook's developer community, but potentially its user community too.
A primary complaint of many commenters, developers and members of the data portability community was that the permissions dialog design did little to convey to users that they were now sharing information that had previously been kept for use on Facebook, not third-party applications. Take a look at the permission dialog:
While the request for new information seems apparent here, when it becomes part of a much longer list of permissions, it may easily slip past without users noticing. Purdy was not specific in what changes would be made, but we hope that it has to do with at very least the design of the dialog, if not even allowing users to have granular control over what they share with who at the time of sharing, not in a separate settings page.
For an in-depth look at the new feature, give "Facebook & Identity: The Continued Push Toward Becoming Your One True Login" a read.