Facebook seems to constantly deal with issues that have to do with privacy, many of which are specifically its own fault. Its privacy mess-ups could ultimately cost the company a record FTC fine in the billion dollar range. Facebook recently warned popular health apps that use its API to be sure they have legal justification for sharing personal data with Facebook, seemingly indicating that the data major health apps are sharing with it, is data it hasn’t asked for. Facebook is now caught up in another privacy issue.
With the phone number for additional two-factor authentication security, users have to do this with social network calling to secure their accounts. The problem for users is that when Facebook associates the phone number with their accounts, the user’s profiles are associated with the phone number. That linking allows anyone to search for Facebook profiles using a phone number.
Facebook does not offer any way to get out of that phone number search feature. It has been forced to accept that it used phone numbers to target ads to its users. For years Facebook had claimed that the phone numbers are only used for authentication. Do not confuse what’s happening here with your phone number hiding from your profile, which still will not prevent people from finding you using your number.
The good news is that when you can not get out, you can control who can see your profile using your phone number. The default setting is “All”, but you can change it to “friends of friends” or just “friends”. Facebook says that the setting is not new and it has always been and applies to any of the phone numbers you added to the profile. Facebook also indicates that the setting is not specific to any feature.