Facebook Will Stop Using Two-Factor Authentication Phone Numbers For Friend Suggestions

Facebook has long been under scanner over user-privacy related concerns. And to examine its range of privacy practices, the tech giant recently announced that it’ll no longer feed the user phone numbers that are provided to it for two-factor authentication (2FA) into its “people you may know” feature, as reported by Reuters.

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The change is being applied in Ecuador, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Libya and Cambodia this week. It’ll be introduced globally, early next year, and would prevent any phone numbers that are provided during sign-up for 2-FA from being used to make friend suggestions. Existing users of the tool would not be affected but they can de-link their 2FA numbers from the friend suggestion feature by deleting them and then adding them again.

According to Michel Protti, Facebook’s Chief Privacy Officer for the product, Facebook had conducted a review to ensure “the system updates supporting our privacy statements were done correctly […] (it) adds more layers of process and rigor to the vetting of our technical work to make sure our public statements match our operations”.

It was last year when the revelations were made around Facebook using personal data obtained via 2FA to better target and serve advertisements. Privacy advocates called the practice deceptive, stating that it “eroded trust in an essential digital security tool”. Facebook said it had stopped allowing the phone numbers to be used for advertising in June and is further extending that to friend suggestions.

Moreover, Facebook had initiated the updates with its $5 billion settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, where it was required to boost safeguards on user data and resolve a government probe into its privacy practices. However, the FTC order, is still pending approval in court. FTC added that Facebook failed to disclose that phone numbers provided for 2FA also would be used for advertising, and stopped that approach to security tools.

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