For all the privacy concerns and data breaches that have risen around Facebook in recent years, it's easy to forget the smaller instances of data vulnerability built into the foundation of user profiles.
Facebook's use of user phone numbers came back into the limelight this week, as many users realized that their account was still discoverable by people searching with their phone number.
While users can personally restrict this feature - so that they only appear to Friends, or Friends Of Friends - it's still set to Everyone by default.
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Facebook has been aggressively courting users to sign up for 2FA (two-factor authentication) which requires a linked phone number on the basis of security, though the information is also shared between other Facebook-owned platforms Instagram and WhatsApp, and naturally with advertisers.
Twitter user @jeremyburge posted a damning series of tweets calling out the handling of user data (below), and the whole thread is worth reading: it rightly points out that "the default action to create a new account is no longer email or username; it’s phone number. The holy grail. The unique ID."
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/zpYhuwADMSMarch 1, 2019
The extent to which users no longer have control over their data once handed over is disconcerting, to say the least.
While Facebook is finally bringing a 'clear history' tool to the service later this year, there are foundational pieces of identification data that won't be let go of, and which will be increasingly hard to opt out of as Facebook looks to integrate its various social media platforms.
And if you're not regularly keeping up to date with these features - say, through technology news outlets like us - it's frighteningly hard to address privacy issues you aren't even aware of.