Facebook has been in the news a lot lately and this momentum doesn’t seem to be slowing down. The social media giant is facing new backlash for its two-factor identification process which relies on both an email and phone number to sign up and log into the popular app.
Though this security feature is good in theory, the platform has a glaring flaw which enables anyone to find your profile through your phone number.
The worst part? As of now, there’s no way to opt out of this search function.
This means anyone with a Facebook account can simply search your phone number and locate your profile. The biggest issue is that this feature contradicts Facebook’s previous claims regarding its security policy.
“For years Facebook claimed … adding a phone number for 2FA was only for security. Now it can be searched and there’s no way to disable that,” notes Jeremy Burge from Emojipedia in an interview with USA Today.
Recent reports have also proved that using phone numbers as an option for two-factor identification, known as 2FA, is also susceptible to hackers. Even though nearly 80% of malicious security attacks will come from within an organization, countless internet users are being put at risk by simply using a popular social network.
This is primarily because hackers are able to intercept text messages, known as SIM hijacking. This can grant a hacker access to your Facebook account, resulting in a form of identity theft.
This becomes an even larger issue for companies who utilize Facebook for advertising purposes. Nearly 62% of marketers prefer Facebook as their go-to choice for social media marketing, but significant breaches of this size might cause this trust to waver. After all, nearly 43% of cyber attacks alone are targeted at small businesses.
Facebook claimed it stopped users from searching accounts by phone number almost a year ago today.
This is just the most recent issue in a long stream of issues that Facebook has experienced in the last year. Just last fall, TechCrunch noted that Facebook used the phone numbers of its users to target them with advertisements.
These violations of user trust have started to cost Facebook dearly. In fact, Edison Research just revealed that Facebook use has decreased by 15 million users compared to 2017. For comparison, only 2.7 million Americans left their job voluntarily at the end of June in 2015.
The president of Edison Research, Larry Rosin, notes the significance of this drop.
“Fifteen million is a lot of people, no matter which way you cut it. It represents about 6 percent of the total U.S. population ages 12 and older,” Rosin explained in an interview with Marketplace. “What makes it particularly important is if it is part of a trend. This is the second straight year we’ve seen this number go down. Obviously, the U.S. is the biggest market, in terms of dollars, and it’s going to be a super important market for Facebook or anybody who’s playing in this game.”
And this drop was the largest among users between the ages of 12 through 34, one of the most valuable targeted audiences in social media use.
Though the study didn’t ask respondents why they have stopped using the popular social media site, Rosin claims the correlation is considerable. The decline might also be influenced by the rising trend of Snapchat and Instagram among younger people, especially since people over the age of 55 are continuing to sign up for Facebook amidst this controversy.
For now, news sites are recommending that you delete your phone number from your Facebook account to avoid potential hacking issues in the future.