Social networks, 08.11.2022, 10:00 AM
Facebook has unannounced introduced a new service that allows users of the social network to check whether the company is storing their contact information posted by others, such as a phone number or email address, and to remove it.
As he reported Business Insiderthis tool is available from May 2022.
Not only has Meta, which is owned by Facebook, not said a word about this, but the new tool is almost hidden, given that it is only available through line which is located on page in the help section for non-Facebook users. The text with the link on that page does not indicate that the link takes you to the option mentioned above, as it reads: “Click here if you have questions about the rights you may have.”
When you click on the link to reach the tool, you will see the company’s explanation of how it is possible for it to have your contact information, regardless of the fact that you may never have signed up to use one of Meta’s applications – Facebook, Messenger or Instagram.
For years, the company asked users who sign up to share their phone contacts to help them find friends online. In this way, she managed to collect a huge amount of contact information even of people who never registered an account, nor did they consent to the sharing of their personal data.
Although the tool is aimed at people who never signed up for Meta’s apps, it could probably be used by Facebook users who never wanted to share this information.
The tool asks you if you want to search for a mobile number, landline number or email address that may have been set up by a friend who uses Meta’s apps. If any of that is found, you can request that the data be deleted from Meta’s database, and to prevent it from being uploaded again, Meta says it must keep a copy of the data on the block list.
In other words, Facebook may still have the contact information of those who wish to remove it from the platform, albeit in a different form.
When asked by Insiders how this list works, Meta refused to answer.
Scanning contact data takes a few seconds, and if found, Meta will ask you if you want to block that data.
What is the use of this tool? First of all, Facebook algorithms will no longer be able to use your data, such as for the infamous “people you may know” feature. It also gives more control to the people whose data is directly affected. Until now, Meta only allowed users who uploaded their contact information to delete that information.
But privacy experts told Insider that deleting and blocking this small amount of data is a drop in the ocean compared to what Meta knows about you, regardless of whether you use its apps.
For example, Meta collects information about what people do outside of its apps through Pixels, code that tracks what they do on different websites. Meta having both the browsing data and phone numbers of people who don’t even use its services has led to the concept of “shadow profiles,” a kind of Facebook profile of people who have never had a Facebook account.
The company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, admitted at a congressional hearing in 2018 that the company also collects data from those who are not users of its applications.
And this tool is another admission by the company that it was collecting data it shouldn’t have. Now Meta puts the onus on users to remove them.
Meta refused to answer Insider’s questions about why it introduced this new tool and why this year.