And I mean, geez, stuff like this with Facebook just isn’t a surprise anymore, is it? For years social media Big Brother had been pestering its users to secure their account with two-factor authentication (2FA) by prompting them to enter their phone number so they could get a text with a security code login when logging into their account from a new device for the first time.
On the surface, Facebook prompting people to enable 2FA was a good thing–if you have 2FA enabled it’s much harder for someone who isn’t you to log in to your account. But this being Facebook, they’re not just going to do something that is only good for the user, are they?
Last year it came to light that Facebook was using the phone numbers people submitted to the company solely so they could protect their accounts with 2FA for targeted advertising. And now, as security researcher and New York Times columnist Zeynep Tufekci pointed out, Facebook is allowing anyone to look up a user by their phone number, the same phone number that was supposed to be for security purposes only.
Yep. I can no longer keep keep private the phone number that I PROVIDED ONLY FOR SECURITY to Facebook. ZERO notification of this major, risky change. For years I urged dissidents at risk to use 2FA on Facebook. They were afraid of this. @Facebook doesn't care about their safety. pic.twitter.com/lW8wjBJlfz
— zeynep tufekci (@zeynep) March 3, 2019
Oh, and Facebook won’t let users opt out of this privacy violation they never opted in to. The most you can now do is limit who can look you up with the phone number you provided to “Friends,” but you can’t hide it entirely. And remember, by default Facebook allows the whole world to find out who you are by entering your phone number.
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.”
Sigh. Sure you will.
If users want to try to claw back some of their privacy from Facebook’s latest data grab, go into the Settings of your Facebook account, click Privacy, then click “How People Find and Contact You.” Then click “Who can look you up using the phone number you provided?” and change the dropdown box from “Everyone” to “Friends.”