In a development which should come as a surprise to no one, Facebook has confirmed that they use the two-factory authentication phone number you provide as a means to target you with specific ads.
Unfortunately, this is just another reminder that Facebook uses you just as much (if not more so) than you use it.
Regardless of whether or not you suspected that your number was serving more than your personal security, this update still stings a bit. You wouldn’t be crazy to think that two-factor authentication—a feature solely intended to keep your information safe from intruders—would be a vestibule of pure security amidst the tangled mess that is Facebook.
Alas, the phrase “give them an inch and they’ll take a mile” seems to fit Facebook to a T in this particular situation.
Facebook isn’t entirely heartless, however; if you don’t want to see targeted ads based on your two-factor authentication number, they’ve provided a “practical” solution: “You can manage and delete the contact information you’ve provided at any time.” Apparently, Facebook’s best advice for avoiding targeted ads is to remove as much personal information as possible—something you don’t want to hear from a social media service that encourages being thorough.
Security experts have recommended using Facebook’s two-factor authentication service without a phone number but, given that this feature wasn’t even available until a few months ago, it’s unlikely that any users who have already been affected will be able to take advantage of this work-around.
It seems like as good a time as any to remind people that Facebook is a free—and, by proxy, ad-supported—service with a history of intrusive advertising and data-gathering.
As with virtually any free service, the phrase “If you aren’t paying for the product, you ARE the product” is entirely appropriate: Facebook benefits off of your usage significantly more than you will ever benefit from it, and any free service you trust and use is probably doing the same thing.
[click_to_tweet tweet=”If you’re worried about your data being used and you’d like to do something about it, deleting your social media is the only real option.” quote=”If you’re worried about your data being used and you’d like to do something about it, deleting your social media is the only real option.”]
Otherwise, you’ll have to get used to the idea that Facebook and similar services will use any means — even those meant to protect you — to target you with ads.