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How to Prevent Facebook from Uploading your Contacts

by on April 26, 2019
in Facebook, Phones and Mobile, Mobile Apps, Android Apps, iPhone/iPad Apps, Tips & How-Tos, Privacy :: 12 comments

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Facebook isn’t always careful with the information we entrust with it, and the company’s latest privacy misstep may have accidentally uploaded your email contacts. For the last three years, a bug caused Facebook to accidentally import your contacts when you verified your identity by giving Facebook your email password. All in all, Facebook harvested the contacts of 1.5 million new users, without ever telling users exactly what it was doing. Though your contacts were never shared with anyone, they were used to target ads and flesh out the company’s web of social connections. It’s hardly the worst privacy breach Facebook has been involved with, but it’s yet another unauthorized use of our personal information.

Even if you weren’t affected by this bug, it’s relatively easy to give Facebook permission to upload your contacts. But it’s never too late to secure your information: Facebook lets you delete any contact information it has imported, which helps protect your privacy and your friends’ privacy.

Though getting rid of these uploaded contacts will make Facebook’s friend recommendations a little worse, it won’t actually remove friends or change the content you see on Facebook. All it does is prevent Facebook from using your friends to target ads and suggest new new friends. It’s a simple privacy safeguard that won’t hurt your Facebook experience.

Here’s how to find and delete your imported contacts from Facebook, plus prevent them from ever being uploaded again.

How to see if Facebook imported your contacts

Directions are a little different depending on how you’re accessing Facebook.

Check for imported contacts using the Facebook app

  • Tap the three stacked lines to open the menu
  • Tap Settings & Privacy > Settings
  • Under Your Facebook Information, tap Access Your Information
  • Under Information About You, tap About You > Your Address Books

Check for imported contacts using the Facebook website

  • Click the down arrow in the upper right to open the menu
  • Click Settings > Your Facebook Information > Access Your Information
  • Under Information About You, click About You > Your Address Books

If you haven’t uploaded any contacts, Facebook will say “You don’t have any imported contact information.” Otherwise, you’ll see a list of contact information. You can select contacts to delete individually by selecting each and then clicking “Delete Selected.” However, it’s much easier to get rid of them all at once by clicking “Delete All.”

Disable contact uploads to Facebook

If you didn’t have any contacts uploaded, you’re now done. But if you did, you now have to disable content uploads from your smartphone, tablet, and any other mobile device you use to access Facebook with the Facebook app or Messenger app. While that can turn into quite a few steps, it’s a must-do if you want to protect your privacy.

Disable contact uploads using the Facebook app

  • Tap the three stacked lines to open the menu
  • Tap Settings & Privacy > Settings
  • Under Media & Contacts, tap Upload Contacts
  • Toggle it off

Disable contact uploads using the Messenger app

  • Tap your profile picture in the upper left
  • Tap People > Upload Contacts
  • Toggle the feature off

You have to follow these steps on each device with the Facebook app or Messenger app — otherwise, your contacts will simply be re-uploaded after you delete them.

Is it time to delete Facebook? 

 If you’ve decided you’re done with Facebook and its endless privacy problems, you can just delete your account — but deleting Facebook may not do much to protect your privacy, either. So if you enjoy using Facebook, you’ll want to regularly review your privacy settings, but you don’t need to jump to extreme measures. 

[Image credit: Facebook on phone via BigStockPhoto]



Discussion loading

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Privacy

From H.E. Miller on April 26, 2019 :: 11:24 am

My “settings” does not have “privacy” anywhere. How do I find it?

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Are you on phone or computer?

From Josh Kirschner on April 30, 2019 :: 12:13 pm

Make sure you’re following the correct instructions above. The phone app process is different than the website process.

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Computer.

From H.E. Miller on April 30, 2019 :: 12:38 pm

Computer.

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You need to use the website instructions

From Josh Kirschner on April 30, 2019 :: 1:11 pm

- Click the down arrow in the upper right to open the menu
- Click Settings > Your Facebook Information > Access Your Information
- Under Information About You, click About You > Your Address Books

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Settings

From R Flowers on April 26, 2019 :: 1:30 pm

I don’t have Media and Contacts in my settings on the FB app on my phone. I did have a long list of contacts to delete.

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friends

From ardeen hunt on April 26, 2019 :: 8:39 pm

some of my fb friends have disapered they don’t show a friends request how can I get them back?

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Is it possible they unfriended and blocked you?

From Josh Kirschner on April 30, 2019 :: 12:14 pm

Can you look them up on Facebook and find them? If not, it’s possible you were blocked.

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Not enough - I still get new contacts

From Charlie on September 23, 2019 :: 5:38 pm

I’ve recently added a corporate email account to the built in mail app on iOS and fucking Facebook started magically suggesting people from my corporate account.

Since Facebook allowed us to disable the contact upload option I’ve had it turned off. But they STILL fucking read contacts from my confidential corporate email account.

Anyone know what I can do about this? This is absolutely scandalous.

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Are you double sure?

From Josh Kirschner on September 23, 2019 :: 6:41 pm

Are you double sure that contact sync setting is turned off? Because it really “shouldn’t” do that if that setting is off (though Facebook did have a major screw-up of this nature inthe past:https://www.thestreet.com/investing/stocks/facebook-slips-after-admitting-email-contact-upload-in-latest-privacy-glitch-14931015). To double check, what may already have been uploaded, go to https://www.facebook.com/mobile/facebook/contacts/ and see if your work contacts are in there. If so, you can delete them all (note that they will repopulate if contact sync is on.

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still uploading contacts

From Janis on November 05, 2019 :: 10:59 am

I have absolutely turned upload contacts off, so I was shocked to see a recently added contact to my iphone pop up to add as a friend on FB. How would/could this happen?

I had also deleted the messenger app on my phone, but still have access to it on FB on my macbook.

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Could that person have added you as a contact to their phone?

From Josh Kirschner on November 06, 2019 :: 9:07 pm

Facebook’s friends suggestions looks at who you know, but it also looks at who knows you. So if that contact added you to their address book and uploaded their contacts to Facebook, that could be how Facebook is making the friend connection.

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Canvas

From Nkulu Kyungu on November 12, 2019 :: 10:28 am

Oui

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