Facebook confirms using phone number to target ads

By Anuj Sharma - September 28, 2018
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In July, Facebook confirmed granting 61 companies access to its users’ data after publicly saying that the company has restricted such access in 2015.

While Facebook has long been denying that it does not use user’s data for marketing activities, the social media giant has confirmed that it used phone numbers that users provided it for security purposes to also target them with ads.

Facebook asks for phone number for two factor authentication (2FA) — a security process that adds a second layer of authentication to help keep accounts secure.

“We use the information people provide to offer a better, more personalized experience on Facebook, including ads. We are clear about how we use the information we collect, including the contact information that people upload or add to their own accounts. You can manage and delete the contact information you’ve uploaded at any time,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement to TechCrunch.

Users can also opt out of this ad-based repurposing of their security digits by not using phone number based 2FA, the spokesperson added.  

In July, Facebook confirmed granting 61 companies access to its users’ data after publicly saying that the company has restricted such access in 2015.

In a 747-page document to the US lawmakers released last week the company said it provided special access to companies like AOL, Nike, UPS and dating app Hinge a "one-time" six-month extension to comply with its policy changes on user data. In addition, there are at least five other firms that may have accessed limited data, due to access they were granted as part of a Facebook experiment, the social media giant added.

The documents were in response to hundreds of questions posed to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg by members of Congress in April over Cambridge Analytica scandal that harvested data of nearly 87 million Facebook profiles, without users’ consent, raising concerns about whether Facebook can be trusted to safeguard data of its over two billion user.

The UK's data protection watchdog has also slammed a fine of 500,000 pounds ($662,501) on Facebook over the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, which is the highest permitted fine under Britain's data protection law.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in investigation learned that Facebook broke British law by failing to shield users’ information and not revealing how people's data was harvested by others.

Facebook has been facing intense public outrage from users because of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

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