While many of us were busy checking out Facebook’s new Messenger app earlier this week, a new privacy scare has been spreading like wildfire since its release. It seems that someone was digging through their profile’s privacy settings and noticed that all of the numbers in their phone's address book had been imported into Facebook.
The message that I saw no less than five times since yesterday reads something like this:
“ALL THE PHONE NUMBERS IN YOUR PHONE are now on Facebook! Go to the top right of the screen, click on Account, then click on Edit Friends, go left on the screen and click on Contacts. All phone numbers from your phone (FB friends or not) are published!! Please repost this on your Status, so your friends can remove their numbers and thus prevent abuse if they do not want them published.”
I followed the steps in the above message and found several phone numbers listed in my contact phone book, although many were not people from my phone’s address book.
The only problem is that this isn’t anything new, and it isn’t related to Facebook Messenger.
Many of my Facebook friends have added their phone number to their Facebook profile on their own free will. As such, all of these volunteered numbers will show up in your Facebook contact list.
If you use a Facebook smartphone app and have enabled Facebook Contact Sync, all of the numbers stored on your phone will be synched to Facebook. Furthermore, this feature will attempt to sync your friends’ Facebook profile picture with the matching contact entry in your phone’s address book.
The catch is that all of these imported numbers are private and you are the only one that can see them. Of course this doesn’t mean they aren’t prone to hacking attempts.
There are steps that can be taken to delete these contacts.
First, if you don’t want your number publicly available, delete it from your profile. To do so, navigate to your profile, click “Edit Profile” and then “Contact Information” on the left.
To delete the entire contact list, click “Account” at the top right of the screen, then “Edit Friends”. Click “Contacts” on the left then read the warning message on the right and click “this page” to follow the necessary steps.
Finally, on your smartphone’s Facebook app, disable Contact Sync which can be found under the "Friends" menu.