WASHINGTON — The phone number you use on your Facebook account’s two-factor authentication security function will no longer be used by Facebook in its “people you my know” feature, the social media giant says. The company told Reuters that this is all part of a large rework of its privacy practices.
Privacy advocates cried foul last year over Facebook’s practice of using phone numbers provided by users, in their advertising business. These phone numbers came from users entering them in for two-factor authentication. Facebook ended that practice in June.
As a result of a $5 billion settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, Facebook is required to increase user data safeguards to prevent data breaches and increase user privacy. A government probe looking at Facebook’s privacy practices played a role in the company taking action.
The termination of the practice of using users’ phone numbers, originally meant for two-factor authentication in the “people you my know” feature, is set to end in 2020. The change had already begun to take effect late December in Ecuador, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Libya and Cambodia.
As for the separation of phone number data from two-factor authentication and advertising, that took effect in June. A Facebook spokesperson told Reuters the change applies to both new and existing users.