I am going to answer your questions about the whole Facebook Phonebook and Facebook uploading the numbers from your cell phone.
First off, this isn’t new. Facebook first did this last summer starting with its iPhone app. Since it was only happening to those on the iPhone, it didn’t get much press and those without one didn’t pay it any attention. Now that Facebook has quietly added the feature into their apps for other phones, more people have discovered it and it’s a big deal now.
How did the numbers get onto Facebook? If you use a Facebook app on your phone and elected to have your contacts’ Facebook photos and statuses to sync, that’s one way. Also, if you have used Facebook’s friend finder and imported your email address book, is another way. Either way, Facebook didn’t make it explicitly clear that all your contacts, regardless if they are on Facebook or not, would be posted on Facebook.
What does Facebook want to do with our phone numbers? Honestly, we don’t know and I suspect Facebook isn’t telling the whole story. They say that it’s to help improve the friend suggestions. I can vouch for this as I’ve seen friend suggestions that I’ve wondered how Facebook knew that I knew them. Some people suggest that Facebook will sell it to companies so that we can get spammed, or give it to the government to spy on us (terrorist watch, perhaps?) But we don’t know. I would guess it would have more to do with targeted advertising since that’s how Facebook makes its money.
How do I remove my contacts from Facebook? Here’s a good article on how to remove your phone number and disable the sync on the iPhone: http://howto.cnet.com/8301-11310_39-20090906-285/how-to-remove-your-phone-number-from-facebook.
BUT, to remove your imported contacts, I would add an additional step. Follow the guide until you get to the Remove button. Instead of clicking the button there, rather click on the link “Invites and Imported Contacts page” in the first line. Then check the “I understand the consequences.” box and click the remove button. This is better because it will happen instantly. The only contacts that will be left are the ones who have their phone number posted on Facebook. With the other Remove button, you’ll have to wait for Facebook to remove the contacts.
Can everyone see the phone numbers? No, only you (and the Facebook engineers) can see the numbers in your contacts (Facebook Phonebook). Even with that knowledge, I don’t blame you for feeling leery of all of this. The things you can do to protect your privacy are:
- Remove the imported contacts
- Remove your phone number (then you won’t appear in anyone else contact list)
- Go through and purposely set your privacy settings. Don’t just pick the preset choices Facebook offers you. Take the time to go through each and every one to find out what of your information is being shared.