Your two-factor phone number for Facebook is completely searchable
Pretty sure this won’t go over well in the European Parliament.
Ah, another day, another report of scummy behavior by Facebook. Remember that phone number you eventually added to your Facebook account after the social media giant pestered you for what felt like an eternity to secure your account with two-factor authentication? Well, without you specifically allowing Facebook to do so, that phone number has also been associated with your user profile, enabling anyone with your phone number to “look up” your profile.
The kicker (and what will probably get Facebook back in hot water with EU legislators)? There’s no apparent way to opt-out.
This is just the latest development of Facebook’s ongoing misuse of phone numbers given by users under the guise of two-factor authentication security. Last year, it was forced to acknowledge that it was using those phone numbers as part of targeted advertising. Now, those users are finding out that Facebook’s default settings allow anyone (even if they don’t have an account) to search for a user profile based on the phone number that was added for security reasons.
The start of this recent surge of outrage was prompted by a tweet on March 1st by Jeremy Burge, the creator of World Emoji Day, amongst other things. He criticizes Facebook’s collection and use of your phone number, which he likens to “a unique ID that is used to link your identity across every platform on the internet.” With how attached people get to their phone number, even porting it to new services, it’s almost become a modern-day stand-in for a social security number. The power to track people’s usage based on it is wide-reaching.
For years Facebook claimed the adding a phone number for 2FA was only for security. Now it can be searched and there's no way to disable that. pic.twitter.com/zpYhuwADMS
— Jeremy Burge 🐥🧿 (@jeremyburge) March 1, 2019
That phone number is also being given to advertisers
The other side of this searchable phone number directory? Facebook has been handing over your phone number to advertisers, often within two weeks of you enabling 2-FA with it. You don’t even have to have enabled 2-FA for Facebook to have your phone number to sell to advertisers. Ever signed up for WhatsApp? Facebook has your phone number.
If your friend joins WhatsApp or Messenger and consented to the “upload of your contacts,” guess what? Facebook has your phone number. This goes both ways as well, if you add a phone number to Facebook, you’ll get a prompt on Instagram pretty soon after asking if “this is your number and would you like to add it to your account.”
If you’re concerned about having everyone from scammers to advertisers being able to find you with your phone number, go into your Privacy Settings and Tools tab in Facebook and change the Who can look you up using the phone number you provided? dropdown to Friends.
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