At first, I only got one or two texts from Facebook per month. But as my profile stagnated, I got more and more messages. In January, Facebook texted me six times—mostly with updates about what my ex was posting. This month, I’ve already gotten four texts from Facebook. One is about a post from a former intern; I don’t recognize the name of one of the other “friends” Facebook messaged me about.”
If you’re similarly stalked by spammy Facebook text messages, there’s fortunately a way to opt out. Go to Settings, choose Notifications, and ensure that notifications via text are disabled.
Facebook security chief Alex Stamos has said that the unwanted text messages were not sent intentionally – but were the result of a bug:
“It was not our intention to send non-security-related SMS notifications to these phone numbers, and I am sorry for any inconvenience these messages might have caused. We are working to ensure that people who sign up for two-factor authentication won’t receive non-security-related notifications from us unless they specifically choose to receive them, and the same will be true for those who signed up in the past. We expect to have the fixes in place in the coming days. To reiterate, this was not an intentional decision; this was a bug.”
But don’t forget that there are strong arguments for choosing a form of authentication that doesn’t involve you giving your mobile number to Facebook in the first place. After all, that’s data that Facebook will use to try to match you up with potential Facebook friends who shared their contact lists with the social network.
It’s good that Facebook is fixing the issue, but what a shame that this latest faux pas will have damaged the reputation of two-factor authentication when it is so clearly needed.