Facebook admits phone numbers may be used to target ads

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Social Media platform Facebook decided to come off as help to its users and various other things to make it secure, things have rather backfired

Facebook on Thursday announced about the privacy pact among the advertisers who had the members’ mobile numbers for enhanced security purposes.


  • A study found that phone numbers were used to target ads
  • The phone numbers were given to Facebook for two-factor authentication
  • Two-factor authentication is intended to enhance security

A study by two US universities, first reported by news website Gizmodo, found that phone numbers provided to Facebook for 2-factor authentication were also used to target advertising.

Two-factor authentication is intended to increase the security process by requiring a second step, such as entering codes sent via text messages, as well as passwords to get into accounts.

Phone numbers added to profiles, for security purposes, or for messaging were a potential target for advertisers, according to the study.

“These findings hold despite all the relevant privacy controls on our test accounts being set to their most private settings,” researchers said in the study, which noticed how advertisers can get personally identifying information (PII) from Facebook or its WhatsApp and Messenger services.

Leaked Data from the Social Media Platform to feed the Advertisers

Contact lists uploaded to Facebook and its various platforms could be mined for personal information, meaning that online social network community members could unintentionally help advertisers focus on their friends.

“Most worrisome, we found that phone numbers uploaded as part of syncing contacts — that were never owned by a user and never listed on their account – were in fact used to enable PII-based advertising,” researchers said in the study.

The study supported over issues that Facebook uses “shadow” sources of data not provided to the social network for the purpose of sharing to make money on advertising.

“We use the information people provide to offer a better, more personalized experience on Facebook, including ads,” a spokeswoman said in response to an AFP inquiry about the study findings.

“We are clear about how we use the information we collect, including the contact information that people upload or add to their own accounts.”

Facebook going through a really tough time

Facebook is tackling with the worst crisis in its history, vilified for not more enthusiastically guarding the information that users share.

Image Source: Google

The Silicon Valley-based internet giant faced intense global criticism over the mass harvesting of personal data by Cambridge Analytica, a British political consultancy that worked for Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign.

The company has admitted up to 87 million users may have had their data hijacked in the scandal.


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