Three ways to prevent misuse of phone numbers on Facebook

The Nextweb publication had earlier posted reports of how a security research professional had manged to write in a simple script on Facebook, and collect data regarding hundreds of users including email ids and phone numbers. This created concerns for privacy and security settings across the user community of Facebook. On their part, the company has issued a statement saying, “The ability to search for a person by phone number is intentional behavior and not a bug in Facebook. By default, your privacy settings allow everyone to find you with search and friend finder using the contact info you have provided, such as your email address and phone number. You can modify these settings at any time from the Privacy Settings page.” Here are 3 other methods you could use to ensure the similar situation doesnt arrive on you:

Control who sees your phone number

Log on to your Facebook account, click on the user name placed on the left side of the page, then go to Update Info on the right hand side. Within the contact info, click edit, which will have a drop down menu next to the phone number. Ensure here than the se3ttings are changed to atleast ‘Friends’ or ‘Only Me’ so that the number is not exposed to the public. Doing this will ensure that even though the public may visit your profile, there will be no random revelation of the number to the world.

Limit the people who can search for your number

This was the feature of Facebook which was exploited the most by the security researcher. With a simple script to search for random phone numbers, one can get all details of users, their numbers and other private details furbished on the social networking site. The interesting part is that even if the settings are put to private, this feature can be exploited and users’ details can be found easily. To change this, one has to change the default settings, and click on the drop-down menu in the top-right corner on Facebook and choose “Privacy Settings.” Next, scroll down to “How You Connect” and click on the blue “Edit Settings” link on the right-hand side. Then change the “Who can look you up using the email address or phone number you provided?” to Friends, and anything else the user thinks should be changed. This will stop someone from looking up user details, even with the correct phone numer.

Removal of phone number

This is perhaps the last option one could take to maintain privacy. Using the first option’s steps, one can either remove the number completely or provide with a random wrong number, which will prevent anyone to find details and connect on the basis of mobile numbers. If Facebook doesnt have the information, then there will be no way the social network can be used against the user.

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6 thoughts on “Three ways to prevent misuse of phone numbers on Facebook

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