Facebook has responded to a privacy scare meme likely deriving from a recent HackerNews thread called “Facebook has your complete phonebook” both with an official post on Facebook’s Wall and a personal message from a Facebook Messenger engineer Ben Gertzfield on HackerNews.
Facebook has publicly responded to rumors that it is harvesting numbers from mobile phones and then making them public. The company promptly issued a statement denying the rumors. “Rumors claiming that your phone contacts are visible to everyone on Facebook are false,” Facebook announced.
“Our Contacts list, formerly called Phonebook, has existed for a long time. The phone numbers listed there were either added by your friends themselves and made visible to you, or you have previously synced your phone contacts with Facebook. Just like on your phone, only you can see these numbers,” the social networking giant explained.
However, the problem is a bit more complicated. Earlier this year Facebook introduced a two-factor authentication feature which encourages people to use their phones for increased account security.
When the two-factor authentication feature is being set up, there is a checkbox reading “Let my friends see my number” checked by default. Most users are likely skipping over it without reading or without understanding the implications.
And that’s a problem because for some people, particularly social gamers, a Facebook “friend” does not necessarily mean a person they wish to share their phone number with.
Games are an important part of Facebook and one of the network’s most attracting features. But many of these games encourage users to befriend each other in order to achieve in-game goals. In return, this leaves many gamers with huge lists of friends they never met or have no interest in ever meeting, let alone give them their phone numbers.
Tips how to secure your phone number in facebook security setting:
Users in this situation are advised to reconsider sharing their phone numbers on the social network. They should go to ‘Account’ -> ‘Privacy Preferences’ -> ‘Customize Settings’ and if their phone number is listed under ‘Contact Information’ they should change it to ‘Only Me.’