Facebook’s “Contact Sync” feature synchronises your friends’ Facebook profile pictures with the contacts in your phone, but instead of keeping them safely on your handset it imports all the names and phone numbers you have on your phone, uploads them to Facebook’s Phonebook app and lets you and your mates view everyone’s details. It’s taking data from your handset.
As The Guardian’s Charles Arthur points out: “The implications are huge, and extremely worrying. All it takes is for someone’s Facebook account to be hacked (perhaps via their phone being stolen) and lots of personal details are revealed.”
According to The Guardian, a bloke called Kurt von Moos wrote up his privacy concerns this year. He says that there are a number of reasons to be concerned.
Firstly, Facebook doesn’t warn users that they are uploading their phone’s address book to Facebook.
As Facebook doesn’t sync contact numbers or email addresses to phones, most users wrongly assume that Facebook Contact Sync only syncs user pictures. In reality though, they are flashing your address book, without your consent.
Facebook says you can remove your mobile contacts, but it’s not clear that that will remove your mobile if someone else uploads it.
On the Facebook Phonebook page it says: “If you would like to remove your mobile contacts from Facebook, you need to disable the feature on your mobile phone and visit this page.”
However, when we had a go, the page said “Please try again later”.