Facebook Can Reveal Your Public Info With THIS Shocking Feature!
In light of the recent data breach scandal, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg shocked billions of users worldwide when he revealed that their public information was already scraped by third-party companies if they turned on a specific feature of the said social media site. Let us uncover how we might be exposing our data and privacy to the public without us knowing.
Specific Search Function
Even before the CA scandal got exposed, Zuckerberg clarified that millions of users worldwide may have granted access to their public information already. One should assume this to be true, especially if you have turned on the specific search function where any user can search your profile through your email address or phone number instead of just searching for your name.
The said Facebook feature was added by the management to make it easier for your friends to look for you. Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer discussed this account discovery feature in an excerpt published in a press release.
He stated that they received some complaints from users all over the world who were having a hard time finding a specific Facebook profile when they type out their name, especially if it’s written in another language.
Aside from that, some users get confused if the search results displayed more than one account bearing the same name. This prompted Facebook to add phone and email filters, which became incredibly helpful in streamlining the search feature for adding mutual friends and connections. However, because the filter contains sensitive information, he noted that some malicious actors are starting to abuse this feature for data scraping.
The Data Scraping Scheme
Since the other users can now search your Facebook profile easily through your phone number or email, it also becomes easier for them to scrape some of your data. They can easily copy your information as well as your pictures and even locate your whereabouts. Moreover, they use your phone number and email to use the recovery feature of your Facebook account.
The moment they do, they automatically change your password and enter new details, hacking your account in the process! Once they have stolen your account, they use your identity and information to commit crimes like fraud, scam, and other malicious activities.
As of this year, Facebook has disabled this feature in an attempt to reduce the risk of data scraping. They’re experimenting with some ways to re-enable this feature with added built-in security in order for the accounts to be better protected. Zuckerberg released this statement to assure users that the company is working hard to protect its user’s privacy. However, it seems millions of users are still in doubt especially since the CA scandal has yet to be resolved.
The Cambridge Analytica Scandal
Earlier this month, a whistleblower named Christopher Wylie revealed how Cambridge Analytica, the company he formerly worked for, had influenced the outcome of US Elections in 2016 by promoting Trump’s presidential campaign. He revealed that the CA had harvested around 50 million Facebook user’s information to promote positive campaigns and post about Trump on their news feed. Thus, pre-conditioning their minds to vote for Trump.
The said data breach started when a Cambridge Professor developed an app entitled “This is your Digital Life.” A user has to sign in to his or her Facebook account and grant some permissions before taking the quiz. The information obtained from the app was used for “academic purposes.” It seems the app does no harm to user’s privacy.
However, everything changed when CA bought the said data from the professor. They used the scraped data to promote Trump’s campaign. Facebook got caught in the middle of the crossfire, causing the company to lose billions of dollars due to the said data breach scandal.
Turning Off the Facebook Search Feature
If you don’t want others to find your Facebook profile, you can do the following steps to disable the search feature:
- Click at the top right corner and a drop-down will appear. Choose Settings.
- Click Privacy from the left column.
- Under the “Who can look me up?” section, click “Do you want other search engines outside of Facebook to link to your profile?”
- Tick or untick the checkboxes depending on your preference.
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