Like most of us, I have an electronic address book with lots of addresses and phone numbers.
Facebook has been begging me for years to tell them my phone number, and I have refused, knowing that they also trick people into letting strangers have their entire “friends” list.
But now Facebook has purchased the popular messaging app Whatsapp, and has access to any data Whatsapp has collected or will.
I just installed Whatsapp because some people I need to work with use it. But it would not even run without my phone number. And it will not allow me to message anyone unless I feed it my entire contacts list!
Now none of these people have given me permission to announce their phone number to anyone, much less anyone as nosy as Facebook. And yet, if they know anyone who has ever used Whatsapp, their phone number and a lot of other info has already been released. Even without Whatsapp, there are dozens of web sites that claim to be able to give you this kind of data on other people for a fee.
In the last line, I say “claim” because I have never paid the fee to find out whether there really was any data or not. But it’s quite possible that one or more of these sites is selling data from the recent Equifax leak, or the one from a big hospital network a while ago, or …