Facebook won't keep your two-factor phone number truly private

Facebook is using your 2FA phone number for 'look up' search feature

Burge's tweet thread highlighted that Facebook's default settings allow anyone - regardless if they have a Facebook account - to look up your profile with your 2FA phone number.

To be fair to Facebook, you don't need to offer up a phone number to engage two-factor authentication. At this point, it's not clear how Facebook's decision to stop using phone numbers in its search results benefited users, since this new feature essentially does the same thing.

Users can hide their phone numbers so no one can see it, but that doesn't remove the ability for people to look you up using it.

Jeremy Burge, the founder of emoji reference site Emojipedia, first tweeted about the privacy issue and started a discussion over.

Meanwhile, Facebook spokesperson Jay Nancarrow has said that the settings "are not new" and that "the setting applies to any phone numbers you added to your profile and isn't specific to any feature". All you can do is restrict the information to the eyes of your Facebook "friends" or "friends of friends" rather than "everyone". "Now it can be searched and there's no way to disable that".

While Facebook users can limit who is able to search for their profiles using a phone number, you can't prevent it entirely. Third-party systems, like Google Authenticator and Duo Security can also be used to add an additional layer of protection onto your account. Users have the option to remove their phone number from their account, though that would preclude using it for account recovery.

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For years Facebook claimed the adding a phone number for 2FA was only for security.

From the Settings, scroll through to Security and Privacy then select two-factor authentication and click on the Authentication app option. Last year, the company had pestered users into registering their phone numbers for two-factor authentication. Numbers are also shared with WhatsApp, another Facebook property, the whistleblower said.

Not mentioned on its help page is the fact that Facebook uses phone numbers for advertising.

They found "that phone numbers and email addresses added as profile attributes, those provided for security purposes such as two-factor authentication, those provided to the Facebook Messenger app for the goal of messaging, and those included in friends' uploaded contact databases are all used by Facebook to allow advertisers to target users".

On his Twitter, Jeremy Burge criticised Facebook for the alleged misuse of users' personal information.

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