Published: Tue, March 05, 2019
Technology | By Nina Perez

Sorry, but Facebook still wants you to share your phone number

Sorry, but Facebook still wants you to share your phone number

Facebook responded to TechCrunch with regards to the look up setting, with spokesperson Jay Nancarrow stating, "the setting applies to any phone numbers you added to your profile and isn't specific to any feature" and that the settings, "are not new".

In September, Gizmodo reported that Facebook also uses that security information to target adverts: if a business has a phone number for a potential customer, they can upload that number and target that customer with adverts - even if the number is only in Facebook's systems because of the security policies.

Thankfully, Facebook took the users' concern seriously and said, "We appreciate the feedback we've received about these settings and will take it into account."However, it refused to comment on exactly how it is going to combat the issue". Last year, the company had pestered users into registering their phone numbers for two-factor authentication. You'll notice that your phone number is public by default to "everyone" who looks you up which you can change to "friends of friends" or just the user's "friends". According to Burge, if you delete Facebook, it'll keep your data under the pretense it's used for Instagram or WhatsApp - which it can do thanks to the phone number's new role as a unifying identification tool.

The other icky thing about this is that, again via a confirmation to TechCrunch, Facebook has acknowledged that it does use phone numbers provided for two-factor authentication to also improve its user ad targeting.

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.

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To disable the phone number look-up feature, open the Facebook menu and select "settings".

Facebook has been encouraging users to enable two-factor authentication to boost the security of their accounts, but it turns out that there's a slightly sinister side to this feature.

"This isn't a mistake now, this is clearly an intentional product choice", he said via Twitter, adding that Facebook needs someone in the product design chain advocating for security. FB can't credibly require 2FA for high-risk accounts without segmenting that from search & ads.

To be fair, though, anyone who's upset by this should be aware that Facebook very likely already had their number anyway, via the way it builds out its trove of connections between users - the way, for example, your friends may have uploaded their contacts, including you in that pile. That's a goal Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has reportedly been pursuing for years, as a recently revealed cache of documents suggests.

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