Over the next few days, Facebook will be asking each of its users to confirm their mobile phone number in an effort to ward off potential security leaks like the ones that have hit LinkedIn and eHarmony.
Facebook, as first reported by TechCrunch, is telling users that having their phone numbers allows them to send new passwords via text message if there is a security breach. But critics are already questioning whether Facebook has ulterior motives behind its request.
Most likely, Facebook is asking for phone numbers for the exact reason it's saying it is. Remember that just last summer, Facebook had to quell false rumors that it was displaying mobile phone numbers without user permission. While the social network has made legitimate privacy blunders in the past, it seems to understand the importance people place on keeping their phone numbers private.
Users can expect to see a message at the top of their news feed within the next few days urging them to take steps to protect their account security, which includes a link to Facebook’s Security Center. Facebook said the security push has been in the works for some time and is not in response to the LinkedIn security breach, where 6.5 million passwords were stolen.
Whether you give Facebook your number ends up being a personal choice. If you follow the standard rule that anything you put on the Internet may one day be public, your decision will be based on how secure you are with your phone number getting out there. Still, the risk is relatively remote, and Facebook expects that it will be able to get users up and running with new passwords much more quickly than if they are forced to rely on emailing instructions to users.