Technology

How to keep your mobile number private on Facebook

Security is an issue that stands out when you use Facebook. The social media giant has taken steps to increase security by coming up with two-factor authentication. What many of you might not be aware of is the fact that your phone number you use to do the two-factor authentication is no longer safe. When Facebook asks you to link your phone number to your account so that you can receive a text to verify your account before you log in, people can still search for you using this information even if you’ve hidden your number on your profile.

This issue was first brought into the spotlight by writer Jeremy Burge on Twitter, which led to a slew of similar complaints from other users. The fact that phone numbers that were shared for the purpose of security are being used for other purposes with zero notification has irked more than a few users. “I can no longer keep private the phone number that I provided only for security to Facebook,” security expert and writer, Zeynep Tufekci, wrote on Twitter. “Zero notification of this major, risky change.”

There are no restrictions that can stop Facebook from using your phone number for other purposes. This also technically, allows total strangers to be able to find your phone number.

The default setting in Facebook allows any user to find you and to make matters worse, the best security setting you can select is still open to friends. It was noted last year that your phone number was being used by Facebook to make it easier for targeted ads to find its way to you.

The steps that you can take to protect yourself and keep your phone safe is also quite limited. According to Burge, Facebook also shares your information with Instagram and WhatsApp (which they own). If any friends log in to either of the apps and allow access to their contacts, it’s easy for them to locate you.

The writer also tweeted that though he had not provided his number to Instagram, but that he was still asked to confirm it just a few days after he provided it to Facebook for two-way authentication. A screenshot posted by the writer on Twitter of his Instagram asking him to update his phone number.

Although it isn’t much, there are still steps that you can take to protect yourself. Under ‘Settings’, find ‘Privacy’ and you will be able to find information on how people can find and contact you. There is another section called ‘Who can look you up using the phone number you provided’ under which you can choose ‘Friends.’

You can also bypass all these problems by choosing to do the two-factor authentication through your email address (preferably a burner) instead of a phone number.

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