Facebook is Letting Anyone Look You Up Using Your Phone Number

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A screenshot of the two-factor authentication prompt states: 'Add your phone number to help secure your account and more'. Instead, Facebook is using the numbers to link netizens to other people, and target them with online ads.

Facebook allows you to add an authentication app.

In response to the growing outrage over Facebook's latest data misuse scandal, a company spokesperson told TechCrunch, "We appreciate the feedback we've received about these settings and will take it into account". At this point, it's not clear how Facebook's decision to stop using phone numbers in its search results benefited users, since this new feature essentially does the same thing. He added that, perhaps unsurprisingly, this data is also shared with WhatsApp and Instagram, which means your phone number becomes a unique ID for you.

'Now it can be searched and there's no way to disable that'.

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.

It is worth noting that Facebook set the "look up" settings to Everyone by default.

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Users are only given three options: Everyone, Friends of friends, and Friends. First and foremost, there's a good reason to suspect the social networking service's two-factor authentication feature is about further weakening user privacy much more than it is about strengthening security. Thus you can do multi-factor authentication with Facebook: remove the phone-based 2FA and reactivate it using an authenticator app. Facebook also maintains that the setting isn't specific to any feature.

You may well have opted to maintain an element of privacy by omitting personal information such as your address and phone number from your profile.

Facebook a year ago amended its solicitation to submit a phone number with a link explaining that the number would be used for other purposes.

Users can hide their phone numbers so no one can see it, but that doesn't remove the ability for people to look you up using it.

They found "that phone numbers and email addresses added as profile attributes, those provided for security purposes such as two-factor authentication, those provided to the Facebook Messenger app for the objective of messaging, and those included in friends' uploaded contact databases are all used by Facebook to allow advertisers to target users". FB can't credibly require 2FA for high-risk accounts without segmenting that from search & ads.

For all the privacy concerns and data breaches that have risen around Facebook in recent years, it's easy to forget the smaller instances of data vulnerability built into the foundation of user profiles.

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