Facebook Facing Public Backlash For Phone Number Lookup Without Opt-out Option

Facebook Facing Public Backlash For Phone Number Lookup Without Opt-out Option

It looks like Facebook allows people to look up users on the platform using their phone number, even if they submitted that number for security purposes. In this manner, every Facebook account tied to a phone number is searchable to "everyone" by default, or to "friends or friends" or just "friends". Facebook's 2FA has been under the privacy scanner since past year when a number of people received random SMS notifications after giving their phone number for 2FA.

WTF?! Facebook is using the phone numbers they collect via two-factor authentication to serve ads, and now it turns out you can't opt out of the service once you've opted in. In one of his tweets, Jeremy includes a menu of options from Facebook showing that users do have some choices about who's allowed to look them up by their phone numbers.

We already knew that Facebook had lied about only using phone numbers gathered via 2FA setup for security purposes: researchers discovered in September 2018 that Facebook used those numbers to inform targeted advertisements. Last May, Facebook eliminated the requirement that you set up two-factor authentication via the addition of a phone number - so what's going on here, in other words, is that once you do add a number, it opens up a variety of ways for Facebook to use it.

And if you're not regularly keeping up to date with these features - say, through technology news outlets like us - it's frighteningly hard to address privacy issues you aren't even aware of.

Facebook told Mashable that the option to disable the 'phone number lookup' and 'email id lookup' is now not available but would update details once finalized. "Now it can be searched and there's no way to disable that".

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Not mentioned on its help page is the fact that Facebook uses phone numbers for advertising. Instead, Facebook is using the numbers to link netizens to other people, and target them with online ads. Your phone number becomes a bridge across services, such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.

Facebook said the feature is on by default so that it is easier to find friends.

If, it is, just click on the Remove Phone Number. "No other entity does this, it's not industry standard, and of course is yet another way Facebook compromises user information". "Facebook shares phone numbers with advertisers", said Burge in a series of tweets.

"At a time when tighter regulations around data privacy are in the spotlight, allowing anyone to search and connect a phone number to a Facebook account might seem a little out of date", explained Jake Moore, cyber security specialist at ESET.

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