This time, the Silicon Valley giant has been caught red-handed using people’s cellphone numbers, provided exclusively for two-factor authentication, for targeted advertising and search – after it previously insinuated it wouldn’t do that.
Folks handing over their mobile numbers to protect their accounts from takeovers and hijackings thought the contact detail would be used for just that: security. Instead, Facebook is using the numbers to link netizens to other people, and target them with online ads.
For example, if someone you know – let’s call her Sarah – has given her number to Facebook for two-factor authentication purposes, and you allow the Facebook app to access your smartphone’s contacts book, and it sees Sarah’s number in there, it will offer to connect you two up, even though Sarah thought her number was being used for security only, and not for search. This is not a particularly healthy scenario, for instance, if you and Sarah are no longer, or never were, friends in real life, and yet Facebook wants to wire you up anyway.
Following online outcry over the weekend, a Facebook spokesperson told us today: “We appreciate the feedback we’ve received about these settings, and will take it into account.”
Anyone surprised much?