Facebook announces it will stop harvesting phone numbers for "friend suggestions"

by Daniel Payne · Dec 19th, 2019 4:13 pm

In attempt to strengthen its privacy practices for users, Facebook said on Thursday that it will no longer harvest phone numbers via its authentication system in order to power its "friend suggestion" feature.

The company currently uses a "two-factor authentication" setup in which visitors can use their phone numbers to provide an extra layer of security on their accounts. Facebook had been using those numbers to "suggest" friends from members' digital address books.

The company said users who wish to cease receiving those friend suggestions must erase their number from the authentication system and re-enter it.

The change was reportedly due at least in part to a $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, which in July had ordered the company to boost its privacy practices. Facebook had previously used its users' phone numbers for advertising purposes, though the corporation stopped doing so in July.

Read more: Facebook says it can locate users even if they opt out of tracking


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