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Facebook says iPhone app doesn't leak users' phone numbers

By Samyuktha

London, Oct 8 (ANI): Amid increasing allegations over users' privacy, Facebook has denied claims that private phone numbers could be seen by anyone thanks to its iPhone app.

Bloggers said that the social networking giant's iPhone application to 'sync' information might have inadvertently handed over friends' contact details to the site.

However, Facebook has issued a disclaimer that you have to agree to or decline before you can use the 'contact sync' feature.

"If you enable this feature, all contacts from your device (name, email address, phone number) will be sent to Facebook and be subject to Facebook's Privacy Policy, and your friends' profile photos and other info from Facebook will be added to your iPhone address book. Please make sure your friends are comfortable with any use you make of their information," the Daily Mail quoted the disclaimer as reading.

But there are concerns that phone numbers are inadvertantly being shared by Facebook users.

"Despite the reassuring phrase there - 'Facebook Phonebook displays contacts you have imported from your phone, as well as your Facebook friends' - it's absolutely not true," said Charles Arthur, a Guardian blogger.

"I know because there are numbers there which I don't have. OK, perhaps the people who own them added them; but that's not clear either.

"So how did they get there? Because it only takes one person to upload another person's number, and the implication is that it's going to be shared around everywhere," he added.

However, Facebook today insisted that an individual iPhone user's list of phone numbers could not be seen by anyone on the web, regardless of the different privacy settings it offers.

But they admitted that details could be leaked if someone hacked into your account.

"Only you can see your Phonebook on Facebook; it can't be seen by anyone else," said a spokeswoman.

"This is the same as online phonebooks or email contact lists many people already have.

"People also have the ability to control who sees their contact information through their privacy settings - this includes the ability to make your mobile number visible to only a few select friends or of course you don't have to include one at all. "Facebook never shares personally identifiable information with third parties - advertisers are only given anonymised and aggregated data. "Facebook is a free service and something that many people find adds value to their day-to-day lives.

"As with any service, users do need to invest some time in order to use it properly and we encourage people to use their privacy settings to do this," she added. (ANI)

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