Facebook Makes Your Phone Numbers Public Information -- Sort Of

Facebook is becoming one of those friends whom you invite over for tea and, in a moment of weakness, tell him some very personal information about yourself, and then he runs all over town spilling the info to everyone. Like Facebook will ask you what's your phone number? And they'll make it seem like you HAVE to give it because that is the way they are going to contact you to keep your account SAFE. So you give it over -- against your better judgment 'cause you know how sneaky Facebook can be -- and the next thing you know, it's blabbed all over town! When will we learn that we just cannot trust FB with our personal info? Yet we keep handing it over. Sigh. Why you do me like this, Facebook?

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While you can control who sees the phone number and email you registered with by using your privacy settings, the default setting is that "Everyone" can find you by doing a search with your email or phone number. You can always change that to "friends" or "friends of friends." (If you're like me, changing anything on Facebook is never exactly a breeze, but this is in the "How You Connect" portion of your privacy settings.)

While you can look up pretty much anyone on FB using their phone number, this isn't a "flaw" in FB's system. It's something they did on purpose so you could find people by various ways. For awhile the rumor has been going around that you can randomly put anyone's phone number into FB's search engine and see someone's phone number-- even a person you're not friends with. This isn't true nor has it ever been. Unless, of course, someone chooses to make their contact info available to "Everyone."

The problem comes in when telemarketers and pollsters and other types who want your name and number use a bunch of randomly generated phone numbers numbers and then quickly run them through FB and link those numbers to you. Now that I think about it, this might explain why my cell has seen an uptick in text message spam recently.

Yesterdya, Facebook "fixed" this problem so that computers can't go in and harvest phone numbers as easily now. But your number is still at risk for being picked up by pretty much anyone if you don't change your privacy settings to "friends." But what happens if one of your friends is a telemarketer who can randomly generate numbers? Well then I guess you're screwed.

Are you worried about Facebook having so much private information?

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