‘Facebook for iPhone appears to have uploaded all my contacts silently’


Got a note in from reader Paul who is rather concerned by his discovery:

Hi Ewan,

I don’t know if you are user of the Facebook iPhone app, but mine seems to have silently uploaded by address book into Facebook.

Try going to Account->Edit Friends. You can then see a phonebook icon on the left hand side. I clicked on it and found that it had all uploaded all my numbers!

Plus the page to supposedly remove them doesn’t work AND the sync feature is turned off in the app!

Very dubious.



Could it be that every one of your friends has filled in their phone number on their profile, Paul?

Can anyone shed some light on Paul’s issue?

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

10 replies on “‘Facebook for iPhone appears to have uploaded all my contacts silently’”

Hi Ewan,

Think you are correct. Some of my friends have phone numbers that don’t exist in my phone, so they must come from their profiles


I see what he means but I can only presume it happened when I synced my iPhone address book with Facebook. Quite useful to know I have another backup of my numbers online.

Im loking at my profile and I have a number of peoples phone numbers there which there is no way I got from anywhere but facebook. I can also see a lot of variations in phone numbers international codes on the FB list, and I always enter phone numbers in a standard format, so I think false alarm.

Whether it’s a false alarm or not, it’s just another reason why I continue not to use Facebook – from a Security pov there are too many “unknowns” & too many things are “opt-out” by default when it should be “opt-in” imho.

Sadly it isn’t a false alarm. It appears to be a known “feature”. Here’s a link to an article that describes it quite well.

Facebook does silently upload your address book from the Phone client and you can see them if you click on the “Phonebook” icon. The sync option is for transfer of data from Facebook to your phone, not the other way around. Facebook uploads your contacts without asking.

I’m not the only one who has been affected. A quick check round the office reveals some very upset people.

So now Facebook have the phone numbers of my mother, wife and children, As do any apps that manage to access this data.

All without my permission.


My Phonebook page on FB clearly states:
“Facebook Phonebook displays contacts you have imported from your phone, as well as your Facebook friends.
If you would like to remove your mobile contacts from Facebook, you need to disable the feature on your mobile phone and visit [link to a page which isn’t accessible right now, propably because all MIR readers are visiting it right now].”

I have just stopped using facebook.. Problem solved. FB leaked some numbers a while ago, during a permission change that was not authorized and the telemarketers had a good time ringing me.

Exactly: FB says “contacts *you* have imported from your phone”, which means that they shouldn’t grab your contacts without your consent…

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