Privacy Concerns Raised Over Facebook’s 2FA’s Phone Number Option

Facebook is once again under scrutiny due to phone numbers privacy concerns

Data security and account privacy have become a central topic of conversation about Facebook. The world leader for social networking has been scrutinized many times for different cases of data breach and privacy concerns.

Last year, Facebook’s co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Mark Zuckerberg appeared in a highly covered Congress meeting that discussed Facebook’s role in data piracy and the responsibility of the company to safeguard its user’s data.

In October, the company used the phone number you provided for two-factor authentication to enable advertisers to target you. Last week, Emojipedia’s Jeremy Burge highlighted in a tweet that if the social network has your number, it allows everyone on its platform to look you up with it by default – and you can’t turn that off.

Facebook has since clarified the issue that the number you provided in the two-factor authentication can already be seen by everybody when they search for your name because it “makes it easier to find people you know but aren’t yet friends with.”

However, many had criticized Facebook as invasive and possesses little regards for its users’ privacy when the social media giant failed to provide disclaimers specifically on phone numbers that can be accessed by everyone when sets on default. The least that the user can do is to restrict the viewing settings to those that they are friends with.

Similarly, Facebook has also been criticized for keeping the records of deleted messages after it rolled out its ‘unsend’ features in Messenger.

Facebook holds to the presumably deleted data for an unannounced length of time, citing that the feature is prone to abuse. Facebook said that they are keeping the data in its servers because bullies can use it to send hurtful messages and delete it afterward, and claim that there was no evidence of bullying.

This seems like it is fair. However, based on Facebook‘s privacy records, data stored on the site is not as safe as people thought it is. For the past year, Facebook has been the center of a legislative inquiry linked to its possible wiretapping capabilities and its alleged role in selling user data to politicians to be used in elections.

With the new update and with the rule that the company will keep deleted messages in its servers, critics have warned that the database can be used for another data breach.

The unsend function is similar to the ability shown by CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s account which is deleting messages that were previously sent. The function was first discovered last April after multiple sources noted that messages they’ve received from the CEO had mysteriously disappeared. When questioned, Facebook confirmed Zuckerberg’s messages expired over time, citing increased security measures after the 2014 Sony Pictures email hacks.

Another privacy concern was raised last month when Facebook’s algorithm has allowed closed groups data to be stolen following complaints of a patient data breach in the US.

A letter was sent on February from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, to request for a closed-door staff meeting by March to discuss the latest privacy concerns that the social network is facing.

Federal Trade Commission filed a 43-page complaint alleging the social media company of luring users into sharing their personal health information through “closed” groups.

A closed group on Facebook is exclusive to a particular group of people that were approved by the administrator. The complaint alleges that Facebook misleads users about how private and anonymous the health data they share is. It also noted that third parties have been able to exploit certain loopholes, enabling them to access members’ posts and comments.

Facebook, through its spokesperson, denied the allegations and pushed back against the idea that the tech company was misleading users about their closed group features.

“Facebook is not an anonymous platform; real-name identity is at the center of the experience and always has been. It’s intentionally clear to people that when they join any group on Facebook, other members of that group can see that they are a part of that community, and can see the posts they choose to share with that community,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.

“There is value in being able to know who you’re having a conversation within a group, and we look forward to briefing the committee about how these products work,” the spokesperson added. /apr

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