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Security & privacy

Facebook fails to protect your phone number

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Facebook’s recent struggles have been all over the headlines lately. Who can forget Cambridge Analytica?

Things got worse later when Facebook announced that tens of millions of accounts had been hacked. So you probably won’t be surprised to learn that there’s another Facebook privacy breach.

This time, it’s failed to protect your personal phone number. In this article, you’ll find out how Facebook users’ trust has been breached again and a way to fix the problem yourself.

Is your phone number secure with Facebook?

Just entering your password to log into online accounts isn’t secure enough these days. That’s why many people have turned to two-factor authentication (2FA) to lock them down.

2FA ensures someone else can’t get into your account if your credentials are breached. They would also need the SMS code sent through 2FA to break in. (PssT! Here is how to set up 2FA on 6 popular sites.)

Facebook even offers 2FA as a security tool. But last year, the company fessed up to the fact that it was sharing phone numbers users provided for 2FA with advertisers so they could send targeted ads.

Welp, brace yourself, the situation just got worse.

The editor of Emojipedia, Jeremy Burge, pointed out on Twitter last week that Facebook’s phone number lookup settings aren’t protecting your privacy. People are able to find your Facebook page simply by searching your phone number.

And not just the number you have on your profile. He said now people can find you by searching for the phone number you used to set up 2FA.

That would mean even if you don’t have your phone number associated with your profile for privacy reasons, you’re not safe if you’ve used one for 2FA. But this isn’t a 2FA problem, it’s a Facebook problem.

However, there are ways around this problem. Keep reading to learn how.

How to protect your identity and privacy

Your personal phone number can be tied to various apps and services that require a valid number to create an account. And for sites like Facebook, your number can be used for 2FA security.

But that might not be the best idea. Especially since we now know people can look you up on Facebook by your phone number. That’s a total breach of privacy!

Plus, what if your number is hacked, or you lose your phone, or switch carriers? For better protection, it’s a good idea to avoid using your personal phone number when you set up 2FA.

Instead, use an authenticator app or a virtual secondary number to receive your 2FA SMS codes. Read this article to learn about apps that give your smartphone a second number.

If you do this and something goes wrong, like your phone is compromised, criminals won’t be able to exploit your personal number. It’s the best way to utilize two-factor authentication.

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