Gini Dietrich

Facebook Is Sharing Your Home Address and Phone Number

By: Gini Dietrich | March 2, 2011 | 

It’s time to change your Facebook settings again. This time? Your profile.

Good ol’ Zuck, in an effort “to encourage users to be more liberal in sharing their data and online activity,” is going to be sharing your home address and phone number(s) with external sites.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Your phone number and address soon will not be private on Facebook, allowing them to share with the outside world, including those people who love to steal other’s identities.

I know. I know. Some of you are going to say that information is already publicly available. But how many of us are on do not call lists? How many of us don’t publish our home addresses? We do this so people don’t know how to find us unless they actually know us.

Mary Holder, the chairman of the Personal Data Ecosystem Consortium says,

People never thought when they were posting this data [such as their phone numbers] that it would be accessible to anyone but friends. There’s a real mismatch of expectations around that. Even if Facebook comes back with new protections, they’re still saying, ‘Hey, get over it, your data is public.’ I feel badly for users that Facebook’s approach is ‘You give us anything and it’s all fair game.’

So what should you do?

If you don’t want your information shared, go to your profile in Facebook, click on ‘info’ on the left-hand side, and scroll down to the bottom where your phone number(s) and address are listed. Delete whatever you don’t want shared.

I have our work number and address listed, but I deleted my cell phone number. So, if anyone wants to reach me or pretend they’re me, they’ll have to do it through the business.

While Facebook is claiming you’ll have to grant permission, once your information is accessed, the best way to avoid this is to completely remove the information from your profile. If your friends don’t know where and how to reach you, well, too bad for them!

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • If it were just me, at this point I’d get off Facebook. But I suspect there are many like me who need to stay on for work reasons, if nothing else, to be able to keep up with what’s going on. Yes, I enjoy the interaction I have wig my FB friends on a personal level, but we’d find a way to keep in touch regardless of FB. Thanks, Facebook, for a headache I didn’t need.

  • Gini, I never thought for a minute that anything I put on social networks is priviledge information. In the end we don’t pay, that’s the bottom line. Facebook is free so they can choose their terms of service as many times as they want and we have no say in the matter.
    I find it really funny how we always point the finger at Facebook for making data which we provided loosely public. Let’s start thinking about how many places online we have entered our credit card information, home address and telephone number.
    Do we know how secure these sites are?

  • ginidietrich

    @Shonali WHAT WOULD I DO WITHOUT YOU ON FACEBOOK!?!? How would I get updates on your phone? Don’t be selfish, Shonali!

  • ginidietrich

    @johnfalchetto Great point. But Facebook is leading the charge in the idea that we don’t get to opt-in, rather opt-out if it really bothers us. And, while you and I are extremely educated in how this all works, we’re in the vast minority. I have a friend whose parents were told to copy their passports and credit cards and carry the copies with them on a cruise. They followed these directions and left the folder, with all the copies, in the airport. Thankfully someone honest found them, but it goes to show that lots and lots and lots of people don’t know the risks.

  • lisagerber

    @ginidietrich @Shonali see? that’s the thing – we’re so embedded with Facebook, and our buddy Mark knows that. He has the POWER. I can’t imagine not being able to keep in touch with everyone on FB. Sure some day, the tool may change, but I’m sure the issue won’t. I agree, @johnfalchetto nothing is private online. I enter every transaction and interaction online understanding that risk.

  • jgwhitt

    Thanks for the tip! Although I am concerned about my privacy, I do think we tend to overhype it a bit. We are going to see more and more that FB and other sites will use the information we explicitly provide, as well as information we are not aware we are sharing, such as our online behavior to deliver a richer online experience. I think at the end of the day, I would rather see the most relevant content and not waste my time wading through content that doesn’t matter to me.

  • trontastic

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, its all about common sense. If you decide to put information in a social environment you must first acknowledge that it will be open for all to see, use and possibly exploit.

    I really have a hard time when someone puts their entire life on FB or any other major social portal, then complains that their info isn’t private. I’m not saying that is being done here but I’ve read a few different articles hit the wire bitching about this.

  • ginidietrich

    @trontastic I’m with you – I’ve found a lot of people are now scheduling trips using some app and it tells us all where you’re going and, most importantly, when you won’t be at home.

  • ginidietrich

    @jeremycoremedia I agree with you on seeing the most relevant content and don’t mind if they use my online behavior to target me. What I do mind is having my personal information (in this case home address) used publicly. I don’t ever put that stuff anywhere online, but most people aren’t even aware this goes on.

  • ginidietrich

    @lisagerber Although…I wouldn’t get PA alerts from Patrick if I weren’t on FB. Hmmmm…

  • Arrrrgh! This is the problem with one highly centralized site on the ‘net that integrates absolutely everything. The only good news I see here is that Bacefook is so cavalier in its attitude that the problem is very obvious and will probably be dealt with sooner rather than later.

  • ginidietrich

    @wabbitoid I knew this would get you, Erik! Congress is trying to stop them, but so far, no luck.

  • Nick

    Oh lord. Is this how you got my number Gini? I really appreciate the calls, but I already have plenty of toner.

  • @ginidietrich I’m easy to bait sometimes. 🙂 The last two weeks have really highlighted the problems with dependence on big ‘net sites like google and facebook, IMHO. I think there is a trend here.

  • trontastic

    @ginidietrich Plancast what? Just as there is a problem in development where functionality is used for the sake of “cool” functionality, we also see something similar in social media where people use functionality for the sake of using it without thinking it through first.
    There are good ways to use systems like Plancast but alas, with the good always comes evil.

  • Incidents like this show exactly why I have very little personal information on Facebook in the first place. Why would I trust Facebook with my personal information when it has proven over and over again that it can’t be trusted? It’s not worth the convenience. Anyone who needs that information can take ten seconds and ask through a message or (gasp) my email address, which is still visible to friends. For now.

  • @Sushi I think the most vital thing is to never put your real birthday into bacefook or link to your parents. My Social Security number is in far too many places right now – including the power company, for example. Someone who gets that should never be able to get your birthday, mother’s maiden name, etc.

    Basically, this is all far too dangerous to trust to an organization so cavalier. Period.

  • @wabbitoid That’s a really good point and one I haven’t put as much thought into as I should be, probably because I’m still in the age of believing I’m invincible. 😉 Unfortunately a lot of people in my generation wouldn’t think about that. They’re also still invincible, and besides, how are casual high school acquaintances supposed to wish you a happy birthday? Yes, people really think about this. People need to learn about preventing identity theft before it happens to them, especially since there are so many places a potential thief can look now.

  • HowieSPM

    This was a topic of mine yesterday. They are trying to get/force people to use the open graph to draw brands into our feed and our friends feed when we click Like off site. The same time they want to share our private data. People will share less when they feel by sharing they will be exploited in unseemly ways. And this is very unseemly. I even removed the Facebook App from my Droid2 becaue of this.

  • 3HatsComm

    Never listed my address, just deleted my one phone number (only visible to a few, like my birthday). I’ll echo many other comments that I never trusted or expected full privacy, anything I didn’t want out there isn’t online, period. Which is why I don’t post on FB that often. FWIW.

  • 3HatsComm

    @ginidietrich @johnfalchetto THIS Gini. It’s the OPT OUT which is complicated and lost on so many, that’s what gets me too. When, how, where do users get these notices, instructions and reminders on how to update and resecure their privacy settings, that they have these choice to opt out? IDK.

  • ginidietrich

    @3HatsComm I love Facebook, but I rarely post my travel plans or anything that could be used against me. Choosing, instead, to write funny things that have nothing to do with where I am or what I’m doing. Although next time I’m with you, I’m going to tag our location and then spout off something about SEO and black hat linking.

  • ginidietrich

    @HowieSPM I think, as long as you’re educated and are smart about what you put online, you’re fine.

  • ginidietrich

    @Sushi You ARE invincible. You are.

  • ginidietrich

    @Nick Bwa hahahaha! Guess you’ll delete your number now, huh?

  • ginidietrich

    @3HatsComm @johnfalchetto They only have the choice AFTER their information has been made available.

  • 3HatsComm

    @ginidietrich @johnfalchetto The after the fact.. that’s what I don’t like.

  • I was gonna leave a comment, but then it asked me to sign in with Facebook, and I freaked right the @#%@ out.

    Seriously, though – I always just assume that any data I put out on any social network will eventually be public information. May be cynical, but it keeps me out of trouble for the most part.

  • @johnfalchetto I totally disagree, John.

    Free should have nothing to do with privacy.

    Other sites are free, and they don’t create the headaches that the kids over at FB’s headquarters create.

    Speaking of money, maybe their atitude is this;

    “We have so much money–we don’t freaking care how you feel about your privacy!”

    Joel Libava

  • TheFriendlyBlogger


    Can I have my Social Security card back please?? I left the required 3 comments now to get it back!! 🙂

    Seriously, Ol’ Zuck is with the Illuminati I swear!! ohhhh the bright lights reel us in!

  • ginidietrich

    @TheFriendlyBlogger I’m sorry. The reqirements increased yesterday. It’s now 10.

  • ginidietrich

    @ItStartsWithUs I don’t think it’s cynical at all!

  • @FranchiseKing I didn’t equate free and private. I was saying free means we have no say in the TOS of FB or any other free service. Also nobody at FB ever asked us to put our contact details there, so why do we do it?
    Let’s not forget that FB is the product of hackers who think it’s entertaining to get people’s data and mix it all up. Not sure why we put our expectactions of FB so high, does it say anywhere in their TOS that they will keep our data secure, encrypted and backed up?
    For all we know Zuck could decide to pull the plug tomorrow and sell everything on FB…oops he has already done that. The best part is that we have given him all the best free marketing data in the world.
    Long live the King Joel! 🙂

  • @johnfalchetto Hi John, Great points. All thet data they have about us, (and our friends) is kind of scary.

    I hope that they don’t try to sell it back to us.

    Then Zuck would REALLY be rich.

    I wish I had the courage to close my damn accounts.



  • I love how you’re so on top of it! I actually have a Mother who was always telling me “Don’t put your home address or phone number on the internet there’s wackos out there” all the time. I just check my Facebook contact information and I didn’t have my address or phone in there…I guess I was listening in my dorm room my freshman year of college when we all signed-up for Facebook together because our school just got on it.

    My Mom would be proud haha. Thank for passing this along though…I think it’s especially important for younger kids who are on Facebook to know about.

  • Pingback: Commenting Away! « Public Relations Apps()

  • ginidietrich

    @rachaelseda LOL!! It’s even important for our parents to know. Some of the older generation just fill in the boxes because they’re there.

  • @ginidietrich This is very true! I did pass it along to my Mom, Dad & more. I guess I immediately think of my younger siblings…just older sibling instinct to protect them!

  • ginidietrich

    @rachaelseda You’re a better elder sibling than I!

  • Pingback: Beware Big ‘Net | Barataria – The work of Erik Hare()

  • erichatch

    I killed my Facebook account altogether not only because they will directly use my personal data but because they gather and collate data about you from any posting you make anywhere, any “like” button you’re too innocent or to concerned not to push, and any Facebook-connected online store you shop at.

    Cumulatively this is way too much information for people to have about you. I do my best to filter it out, but I’m deluged by stuff I don’t want from people or entities I don’t know. I’m convinced this is due to the pernicious behavior of Facebook and its “privacy? fuggedaboudit!” stance.

    The downside is that I’d like to see things displayed on Facebook pages, particularly those of organizations I’m involved with, but the price of admission is just way too high.

    I’ll stick with Linked-in and Twitter, thank you!

  • erichatch

    @Sushi My banks, medical insurers, home insurers, have all asked to make a photo copy of my driver’s license. I have refused. Every single time. They do not NEED that information, and I definitely NEED them not to have it.

    You can simply refuse to supply SS # — very few people have a right to know it.

    Fight back.

  • ginidietrich

    @erichatch As a marketer, it’s quite fascinating to study the online habits of people. But, like the issues with Klout, too many companies want to take short cuts to targeting and just don’t get it right. I’m a big fan of Facebook, but I use it completely differently than most. It’s my stand up comedy outlet…I don’t really get to do that anywhere else and I’m way too scared to do it live.

  • Pingback: The Facebook Empire Ends Here | Geoff Livingston's Blog()

  • Pingback: The Facebook Empire Ends Here | Geoff Livingston's Blog | Facebook News – Social Media News – Facebook Info()

  • Pingback: It's All About the (Personal) Branding | DuetsBlog()