How Far Will Facebook Go To Get Your Info?

Facebook has started coaxing users to add their location to profiles, by asking whether they live in the city most frequently listed in friends’ profiles.

The prompt seems ironic given that the social network just had to halt a protocol that would have shared mobile numbers and street addresses with third-party developers, after receiving a lot of negative feedback within days of attempting to start sharing locations.

It’s hard to pin down exactly when Facebook started asking people to ‘fess up about where they live, but that seems to be part of the intended ambiguity here. The question “Which city do you live in?” doesn’t have any accompanying text saying that the site wants to add this information to your public profile and let advertisers see it too.

But compared to the short-lived attempt to share mobile phone numbers and street addresses with third-party developers, the city question appears a bit more consumer friendly, onlyl because it’s a new type of window rather than hiding something new in a box that people are already used to seeing.

However, the “Which city do you live in?” prompt doesn’t disclose to users the fact that answering the question would trigger location-specific advertising, along with deals, to appear on one’s home page and elsewhere on the site. Nor does Facebook explain how you might delete the city from your profile if you get cold feet after answering the questions.

For people whose profiles don’t yet include a city, the question shows up on the right-hand side of the screen for users who haven’t yet inputted a location, according to blogger Josh Constine, who’d learned of the prompt from a reader. The window gives you the option to click a box beneath the suggested location labeled “I live here,” and a link immediately to the right indicates that you can suggest another city, while an X in the top right-hand corner will let you make the whole thing go away unanswered.

Have you or someone you know seen “Which city do you live in?” prompt, and how did you or that person react to the window? Do you think this will become part of the the privacy debate regarding Facebook?

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