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How to restrict Facebook's access to your phone number



(sergey causelove / shutterstock.com)

Facebook is once again about a headache in its integrity around its collection of people's phone numbers.

As TechCrunch reported this weekend, the social network has a large amount of phone numbers in its database, some of which are associated with internet users who are not even on Facebook. It comes from these numbers in different ways – your cell phone or tablet; your operator a number that you provided earlier but did not confirm and contact information provided by others on Facebook.

The problem is that when Facebook has scratched your phone number, you cannot delete it from the social networking database. And others can use it to find you on Facebook. The best existing Facebook users can do is limit who can find them via this phone number to just friends. Like this.

On the mobile app, tap the hamburger icon () and select Settings and Privacy> Settings> Privacy Settings . Browse down to How people can find and contact you and look for "Who can find you with the phone number you entered?"

Point to it and you get the opportunity for Everyone, Friends of friends or Friends

 Facebook Security settings

According to TechCrunch, the default setting is All, which is probably unwelcome news for the personal conscious. Facebook tells TechCrunch it did it by default because it "makes it easier to find people you know but who are not yet friends with." Your best bet here is to choose Friends, who limit access only to the people with whom you are friends on Facebook.

On the desktop, the process is similar. Select Settings> Privacy. Under How people can find and contact you, look for "Who can find you with the phone number you entered?" and click Edit to the right. In the drop-down menu, select Friends.

 Facebook Security settings

Limit your contact information

As mentioned above, a way that Facebook collects phone numbers is by scanning people's contact lists to help you join friends on Facebook. We've all been there; you create an account on a new service and in a bid to find people to follow you give the service access to your contacts.

It's nice, but it also means that even if you actively avoid Facebook about privacy concerns, some rando with your phone number in their contact list may possibly upload it to Facebook when you sign up for the service. Facebook also has an attitude that allows people to continuously upload their contacts to convince new people to follow. Have you activated it in your account? Let's find out.

On the mobile app, tap the hamburger menu and select Settings and privacy> Settings and scroll down to Media and Contacts.

On Android, tap Media and Contacts and make sure Continuous Contact Upload is switched to

 Continuous Contact Upload on Facebook (Android)

On iOS, tap Download up contacts and make sure the charging contacts are off.

 Continuous contact upload on Facebook (iOS)

Use an Authenticator for 2FA

This is not the first phone number related uprising for Facebook. In the fall, Gizmodo reported that mobile numbers sent to Facebook for two-factor authentication (2FA), as well as contact information retrieved from friends' address books, are used to target ads.

It turns out that Facebook allows advertisers to upload information about people they want to target, including phone numbers and email addresses. If Facebook has that information in their system, the ad goes out.

As you can see, it is very difficult to avoid giving Facebook your phone number when everyone from advertisers to high schools can upload it to social network with a few cranes. But you can try. And in this case, you can use an Authenticator app for 2FA approval instead of your phone number, an option that Facebook rolled out in May.

As an update, 2FA is a security option that requires two forms of authentication when logging into an account – usually your password and a code sent to your phone via text or an authentication app. To set it on Facebook, go to Settings> Security and Log in and look for two-factor authentication. There you can choose how to get your secondary login.

If you select an authentication app, you must download one. I use Google Authenticator (Android, iOS) but you can use what you prefer. To add Facebook, open the authentication application, tap to add a new account and either scan a QR code or enter a code provided by Facebook. When you log in, enter your Facebook password and then open the app to retrieve a six-digit code that changes every 30 seconds.

If you are currently using a phone number for Facebook 2FA and want to switch to an Authenticator, you can easily do that. But to remove your phone number, at least theoretically, you need to turn off 2FA and add it with just one authenticator. On the desktop, navigate to Settings> Security and Login and click "Edit" next to Use Two-Factor Authentication.

  Two Factor Facebook

Click "Enhanced Security" to delete your phone number. A popup will tell you that 2FA is shut down. Click OK and then navigate back to the settings to set 2FA again.


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