Amid a long drawn controversy over how facebook uses your phone number data on its platform, there is finally some action from Facebook’s end. The social media behemoth has announced that Facebook will no longer feed users’ phone numbers to its ‘people you may know’ feed. This will effectively mean users not getting suggestions based on phone numbers.
Facebook, has been under intense scrutiny ever since it was suspected that the platform could have been used to sway the 2016 presidential elections in the US. Last year, founder CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before US congress on the same, with most his answers leaving congressmen unimpressed. His company had been accused of using numbers provided by users for two factor authentication to serve advertisements. The company accepted the charges and reported that they stopped the process in June.
What this new change would mean for users
Facebook will be extending the aforementioned principal to other parts of the platform, starting with friends suggestions. This means that the numbers provided by users will no longer be passed to the ‘people you may know’ tab, hence tightening privacy. The company is rolling out the change in select countries first, namely Ecuador, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Libya and Cambodia this week. Subsequently, the change will be rolled out globally next year.
Existing users whose numbers are already being used for the process will not be affected. However, they can still opt to de-link their numbers from the process.
Ever since the company has been accused of manipulating personal data, it has been doubling up on efforts to gain public support and increase user privacy. Part of the process includes minimizing data collection, documenting the flow of data and providing sufficient transparency.
Therefore, before the change was rolled out, the company conducted a review to ensure “the system updates supporting our privacy statements were done correctly,” told Michel Protti, Facebook’s new chief privacy officer.
She had undertaken an assessment of Facebook’s privacy risks in August. She has also been working on protections aimed at mitigating those risks.