Culture 2 min read

Facebook Phone Number Lookup Feature Receives Heavy Criticism

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Facebook is once again facing public criticism for its Phone Number Lookup feature. According to reports, the Silicon Valley giant failed to protect the personal mobile numbers of people who use them for two-factor authentication (2FA).

To date, many applications and Internet companies encourage people to take advantage of the security benefits provided by 2FA. All a person has to do is enroll their mobile number to the 2FA program of the application they want to use to receive another layer of account security.

2FA-security is one of the most straightforward and relatively foolproof methods of stopping cybercriminals from gaining full access to accounts.

In the case of Facebook, the phone numbers used by FB users during their 2FA registrations are also accessible through the social media’s Phone Number Lookup feature.

To make matters worse, the 2FA mobile numbers are reportedly also being shared by Facebook with advertisers for targeted ads despite saying they would never do it.

Phone Number Lookup and Targeted Ads

Facebook previously claiming that mobile numbers would only be registered for security purposes. Meaning, once an FB user activates the 2FA feature, their mobile number should only be used for receiving the codes needed to access their account.

Instead, the social media network reportedly uses the phone numbers to link users with other people or companies, making them targets of online advertisements. If you have a 2FA-secured Facebook account, your number is searchable by ‘Everyone’ by default.

You have two other options though, make your phone number searchable by ‘Friends of Friends’ or make it available for your ‘Friends’ only. Unfortunately, there is no option to disable it.

Facebook claims that a user can customize their contact information, but that is only true to a certain degree. Importantly, it appears that there is no option to hide or avoid them entirely.

According to experts, exposing phone numbers enables intruders to easily evade other account information associated with those phone numbers. This exposure could quickly lead to a data breach and other privacy issues.

Facebook said that it wouldn’t be changing the privacy settings for its Phone Number Lookup feature as it helps people make new friends. At the moment, FB users can only secure their phone numbers by removing them completely from the application which will also disable the 2FA feature.

Read More: Facebook To Face Multibillion-Dollar Fine From FTC

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Chelle Fuertes

Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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    Laura Fischer March 06 at 1:34 pm GMT

    When people sign up for a social media account, they should know what they’re in for. It’s so obvious that Facebook is stealing everyone’s data, I don’t understand why people are still surprised by these things.

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