Facebook Won't Let Users Opt Out Of Its Phone Number Search Feature

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In other words, people can search for your phone number on Facebook and associate that to your name and other information, even though the objective for which you shared your number with Facebook in the first place was entirely different.

Security expert and academic Zeynep Tufekci said in a tweet: "Using security to further weaken privacy is a lousy move - especially since phone numbers can be hijacked to weaken security". The default setting is "everyone", but you can change that to "friends of friends" or just "friends".

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. 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.

Facebook had partly disabled such phone-number searches in the past, preventing people from finding someone's profile directly from their number: in April 2018, the ad biz said it had switched off phone number search following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, citing abuse.

In a shocking revelation shared to Twitter in March, Emojipedia founder Jeremy Burge discovered the searchable phone number also includes numbers used only for two-factor authentication. Today, the 'Who can look me up?' settings control how your phone number or email address can be used to look you up in other ways, such as when someone uploads your contact info to Facebook from their mobile phone.

Pretty much all the companies that deal with user data often encourage users to opt-in Two-factor authentication (2FA).

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The problem is that Facebook is apparently using those phone numbers for the goal we intended (account security), but also, well, for other things.

Now, users who once added their phone number for security are faced with a privacy setting that asks them who can look them up using that number.

'The original FB phone number prompt never mentioned "and more", Burge adds.

Facebook seems to constantly deal with issues that have to do with privacy, many of which are specifically its own fault.

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".