A recent report by Tech Crunch states that phone numbers linked to Facebook accounts could be used to look up profiles. Last year, the company had pestered users into registering their phone numbers for two-factor authentication.
The problem here is that users cannot opt out of this feature and anyone with or without an account can look up user profiles just by using their phone numbers. Facebook had admitted last year to using the data collected under the guise of security to target users with advertisements.
Recently, a tweet by Jeremy Burge went viral as it detailed the use of a Unique ID that is used to link your identity across multiple platforms on the internet.
For years Facebook claimed the adding a phone number for 2FA was only for security. Now it can be searched and there's no way to disable that. pic.twitter.com/zpYhuwADMS
— Jeremy Burge 🐥🧿 (@jeremyburge) March 1, 2019
This feature cannot be turned off completely by users and is set to “everyone” (can look-up profiles) by default. Jay Nancarrow, Spokesperson of Facebook, stated that the settings were not new and apply to phone numbers added by users to their profiles.
A reporter with The Telegraph was alarmed when her profile could be searched using her phone number which she had never given to Facebook.
This meant that the popular social networking platform was using other sources to find the phone numbers of its users. Zeynep Tufecki, a leading security expert states “Using security to further weaken privacy is a lousy move — especially since phone numbers can be hijacked to weaken security”.