Whatsapp and Facebook Are Handing Out Your Phone Number Without Your Knowledge

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Recently as many of you know, Whatsapp added an update in the BlackBerry Beta Zone for BB10 devices. They decided to add a feature that has already been added for the other platforms.  As you can see if the picture above, it states the Whatsapp is now capable of reading Facebook contact from you system address book and should resolve a large number of contacts issues.  First thing first, I don’t recall there being an issue with contact, and secondly, they forgot to mention that not only will it “resolve” those so called issues, it will actually add new contact to your Whatsapp list, even if you never had their phone number. Keep reading – its gets better yet.

I am not much of a Whatsapp user myself and only have the app for one group that seem to be married to the app.  After the update, I went it to answer a message.  Since I hadn’t opened the app previously, I figured I would have a look around to see what this beta update actually brought.  And like they said, it has pulled my Facebook contacts in as advertised.  So far so good right?

Well think again.  I noticed several contacts in there who were certainly Facebook contacts but I had never ever had any other form of contact besides Facebook. In fact, I didn’t even have their phone number.  I decided to investigate further and sure enough, not only are they now Whatsapp contacts but I can now actually see their phone number.  Yes the phone number they never ever gave me and likely only used on their Facebook account to “verify their identity”.  Which is another thing I never really understood when Facebook made this the norm back in 2011 but its all making sense now.

This all got me wondering how many other people on my Facebook list who never gave out their phone number to me as I didn’t to them now show up as a contact with a phone number.  Yes that’s right, all of them.  If they have Facebook and use Whatsapp, whether they like it or not, I now have their phone number.  One contact’s profile actually shows both cell and home number.

I know what some might be thinking, well these people are Facebook friends so what’s the big deal if they now have your phone number.  We as we all know, Facebook has become a place where old high school mates or casual acquaintances add each other.  Many people do not talk to the vast majority of their Facebook contacts let alone have them on speed dial.  Well, looks like now they do if you happen to use Whatsapp.

One more example of just how bad this could become for people.  One of the people on the list is a person I know from high school.  They are only a friend on Facebook and we have never actually exchanged phone numbers (yes when I was in high school not everyone had a cell phone).  Needless to say, I know this person well enough to test this out with them.  The were showing on my Whatsapp with phone number right there.  I sent a hello text.  To get a response of “who is this?” of course.  Once I let them know, next question was, “how did you get my number?”  I explained the situation to which they stated that they deleted Whatsapp almost 2 years ago and had actually recently deleted their Facebook account.  This one was a scary one as who knows how, who, where, when, and why someone could actually end up with your phone number.

So talk all you want about encryption and the supposed safety and security of Whatsapp (which I don’t buy), but when your number is this easily accessible then the fact that your “hey what you doing tonight?” message to your friend is encrypted really means nothing.

And finally for those who continually say that BBM is just to darn difficult with that PIN and all and would prefer that it just added all their contact via phone number, this is a prime example of why that is an absolutely terrible idea.   BBM puts you in control not Mark and the gang.

If you were like me and wondering how the heck a someone could pay $19 billion dollars for a company that has never ever made a dime?  This is part of your answer. We are now in the data collection age and data is more valuable than gold.  Don’t be just another Whatsapp statistic and download BBM.

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