Facebook is Publishing Your Phone Number!

9 Jun
Everyone once in a while, I come across something that chaps my ass sufficiently to make me drop whatever I’m doing, and go on a rant! This is one of those times.
Facebook is publishing your phone number!

I just saw a FB post on a friend’s page, that said this:

Yet another thing FB is doing without warning us!!! Your phone numbers are listed for everyone to see. On the top right side of your screen, click account, then edit friends. On the …left side, click on phonebook……. MAKE YOUR FRIENDS AWARE THEIR PHONE NUMBERS ARE THERE !”…

So I checked it out, and I found that many FB friends of mine, DO have their phone numbers showing up there.

The first thing I did was send each of them a message, letting them know. Then I ran over to V7N and posted about it, to let everyone there know. Now I’m hoping that more people will see it here.
Many  of us use Facebook, whether to stay in touch with friends and family, or to promote our on-line websites. But it seems that if you’ve ever uploaded your contacts from Hotmail, Outlook or your mobile phone, you may have inadvertently given access to Facebook to more than just their names.
And I think we all know how concerned Facebook is about our privacy, right?
Every time we turn around, the folks at Facebook are “updating” something (which then doesn’t work at all for several days), and resetting our options. Everything you have opted out of, suddenly gets reset to their default, opt-IN! That means that your setting of allowing your information to be seen  by “friends only” or “friends of friends”, just got changed to “public”!
A couple of weeks ago, around 30,000 people, the members of one FB group, deleted their accounts in protest against the cavalier attitude toward user privacy. That’s not a very big number, considering the worldwide user base they have. You’d like to think it might be enough to get their attention, though… at least to make them wonder if they’re doing something wrong.
Apparently not.
So I’m going to go on a little crusade. I’m not well-heeled enough to hire a lawyer and initiate a lawsuit against those idiots. And I really don’t have much to offer in the way of legal expertise, fishing buddies on the Supreme Court or an inside track to the Facebook corporate big-shots. All I really have is time. I’m retired, so if there’s one thing I’ve got, it’s time.
I’ve got time, and I’ve got a blog. I’m a member of a couple dozen forums, and I admin or moderate on several of them.
And I’m an outspoken sonovabitch!
I may not have any more effect than a fart in a whirlwind, but it won’t be from a lack of effort! I’m gonna raise hell until their board of directors is seriously contemplating putting out a contract on my skinny old butt.
And then I’ll raise a little more!
By the way, if you have a Facebook account, go to your account, and follow the directions given above, and see which of your friends have their numbers available there. Then contact some of them. Ask them if they realized it.
I guaran-damn-tee you that most of them will be shocked! And a lot of them will be upset.
Then ask one or two of them to check THEIR account phonebook, so they can tell you if YOUR number is listed there.
If it is, here’s where you supposedly can go, to remove it. I don’t know yet if it works or not, but since it’s a Facebook-provided notice, I don’t have much faith in it!
If you feel like helping me raise a little hell, go for it! Maybe eventually, somebody upstairs at Facebook will realize that things are supposed to be opt-IN, not opt-OUT, where personal privacy is concerned. And that once we make a privacy setting, only WE should be able to change it!

12 Responses to “Facebook is Publishing Your Phone Number!”

  1. Kris June 18, 2010 at 2:29 am #

    Yeah, I hear ya Doc. FB is pulling some whoppers being the social network that they are, at least with myspace if I remember right you got an email each time they were doing something globally, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten one from FB explaining updates or changes, so RANT ON, be a voice for those of us who do not have time to monitor their practices.

    Kudos to you for watcing a brothers back !!!

    • Doc June 20, 2010 at 8:16 pm #

      I’m encountering an amazing level of apathetic fury. Everyone is pissed about it, but not so pissed that they’d ever consider giving up their Mafia Wars or Farm.

  2. Deena June 30, 2010 at 8:28 am #

    I’m not clear about the problem. If your security settings are such that your phone number is only visible to your friends, why don’t you want your friends to see your phone number? Facebook isn’t publishing your phone number to everyone on Facebook, just to your friends, and only to those you’ve made it visible to.

    • Doc June 30, 2010 at 8:43 am #

      The problem is this, Deena: You adjust your security settings so that only your friends can see your phone number. So far, so good.
      Then, Facebook decides to “update” something (which happens 4-6 times per year… three times already, this year), and in the process, they reset a lot of folks’ security settings to the default, “everyone”.
      Of course, it’s too much trouble for them to not change our settings, or to even publish a notice that they’ve “updated” something. So we have to hope that one of our friends notices it, and says something. But in the hours, days or weeks until then, the thousands of scammers, spammers and ne’er-do-wells that are constantly harvesting data on FB, all have your phone number in front of them.

  3. Deena July 1, 2010 at 1:05 am #

    Hey Doc, I’ve checked my security settings and they’re still the same as they were when I first signed up, my personal information is only visible to my friends. Perhaps the default settings don’t apply to everyone when FB updates?

    Now here’s something that will really light a fire under your tail….did you know that people sell their accounts online to the highest bidder? I’ve just embarked on a one-woman campaign against a person called ‘Thanet Fest’ who advertised their personal account for sale on Gumtree. I contacted the seller posing as a buyer, and the owner of the account emailed me back confirming that his account, and the information of his 5000 ‘friends’ is, indeed, for sale!!!

    Very scary to think that those 5000 people have given ‘Thanet Fest’ access to their info, photos, and friends, and that information is now being sold to whomever is willing to pay the price!!!! A large percentage of FB users have NO idea how to utilize the security settings to best protect themselves and their friends, and so any fool can create an account, add 5000 friends, and then sell that information online!
    I’ve emailed Facebook about this, and am hoping they’ll suspend the person involved in this….

    • Doc July 1, 2010 at 8:26 am #

      Very good info, Deena, and yeah, it does put a burr under your saddle, doesn’t it? Supposedly, FB is aggressive about enforcing their TOS, but to be fair, I don’t know how they can detect things like that, except when reported, like you did. Good for you!

  4. Deena July 6, 2010 at 4:04 am #

    Hey Doc, I’ve reported the issue to Facebook, and reported the site as not being a real person because it’s a personal profile…..I’ve yet to receive any feedback from Facebook, and the site is still running, and still for sale!

    • Doc July 6, 2010 at 10:10 am #

      I really have no knowledge of Facebook’s practices on responding to reports, Deena. As large as they have become, it would be understandable if they don’t try to respond to the people lodging reports… must be quite a lot of them. Given that it’s a definite violation of their TOS, you’d like to think they’d eventually get around to knocking it down though, wouldn’t you?

  5. Hope October 5, 2010 at 6:57 pm #

    Facebook isn’t publishing your phone number to your friends. You are. You put it on your info page. Take it off if you don’t want it there. Then it won’t come up on anyone’s list.

    It is actually quite a convenient way to update your mobile so that you have current numbers. It sounds more like you are mad because of something that might happen. It has been this way for a very long time. It hasn’t changed. Nothing has happened.
    Some people are ready to see conspiracies in everything.

    • Doc October 10, 2010 at 7:14 pm #

      Actually, Hope, if you read the entire piece, you’ll see that the problem that many have with this, myself included, is that if you choose to make your number available PRIVATELY to a friend or family member, it stays private only until Facebook implements the next update. At that point, they force everything to DEFAULT to PUBLIC info. When that happens, your friend or family member’s phonebook becomes public, including your number. If you don’t happen to notice it, it will stay that way. And FB usually doesn’t even want to notify users that an update has been implemented.

      No conspiracy, just crappy “we don’t give a damn about our users” policy!

  6. Larry Forster October 8, 2010 at 7:47 am #

    I clicked on the link and the only way you can remove the numbers from your phone book is to remove the friends associated with the number. I tried to find a way to contact Facebook, but have had no luck. If anyone knows, I’d like to have the info to at least let them know I don’t care to have my number showing.

    • Doc October 10, 2010 at 7:16 pm #

      Good luck, Larry! I have yet to find anyone that’s been successful in getting any sort of response from Facebook, on ANYTHING! My personal opinion is, they couldn’t care LESS what you or I want.

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