Daily Tip: How to remove your non-Facebook using friends' stolen contact information from Facebook

Daily Tip: How to remove your friends' contact information from Facebook

If you've synced your contacts with Facebook for iPhone, it's possible that all the information from your iPhone Contacts.app are now copied over to Facebook's servers. While that means you get Facebook profile pics when your Facebook using friends call you, it also may mean Facebook now has the personal numbers of your non-Facebook using friends, and that may not be okay with them, or with you. Luckily there's a way to take back what's yours (and theirs). Instructions after the break.


  1. Visit facebook.com from a PC and log in
  2. in the top-right corner of the screen, click on Account and then Edit Friends
  3. In the menu on the left side of the screen, click on Contacts
  4. Here, you will see that each and every one of your contacts in Address Book are listed along with their phone numbers… wipe the look of shock and disgust from your face
  5. On the right side of the screen, click on the “this page” link
  6. Follow the instructions on this page — you’ll have to disable contact-sync in Facebook’s mobile app if it’s enabled — and click the Remove button

I don't buy the shock and disgust part -- at some point you hit the sync button, after all -- but it is disturbing how quickly and opaquely big online companies can suck in other people's personal info. And if you know any other cases of Facebook, or any social network, holding information you'd rather they not hold, let us know and tell us how to remove it!

Tips of the day will range from beginner-level 101 to advanced-level ninjary. If you already know this tip, keep the link handy as a quick way to help a friend. If you have a tip of your own you'd like to suggest, add them to the comments or send them in to dailytips@tipb.com. (If it's especially awesome and previously unknown to us, we'll even give ya a reward...)

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Daily Tip: How to remove your non-Facebook using friends' stolen contact information from Facebook


"I don’t buy the shock and disgust part — at some point you hit the sync button, after all"
Precisely. And the only reason you see FB friend's numbers in that contacts section is those people have elected, via their security settings - to let people see their contact info.
Best practice is don't say yes when any app beyond your Mail client offers to sync to your phone's contacts, and use FB's security settings to make public, or available to friends only stuff you want seen.

Exactly. I have my number posted but my profile is set to friends only and I only have people who I actully know in my contact list.

There is a bit more to it, that is what I was thinking when I first heard about it. But both my parents went to check it out on their Facebook page's and found a huge list in it, one problem. They don't own a smartphone of any kind and therefore have not synced their contacts. That being the case, where did that info come from then???

Nope. Incorrect. Only the owner of the profile can add their information to their own profile. Unless their friends hacked or have their password and added the information there is no way to add their info on there.

Thanks for the information but I have NEVER synced my contacts with FB so the statement about "shock and disgust" doesn't apply to all. Please ask around before trying to pin a fault on FB's part to the users...

I don't get what the big deal is to be honest. "oh no! Facebook has my phone number! I'll be contacted to update my crops on farmville! ahhhhhh!"
What about the other information people post on facebook? Hell you should be more worried about Google rather then facebook.
I sync my facebook contacts with my address book on my EVO 3D. but then again I only have people who I actully know. (friends, family co workers etc)
Remember you have a CHOICE to put the phone numbers on your profile. If your friend posted it on their profile it was by choice and hence nothing you can do about it.

Not sure how thats possible. How can facebook get phone numbers of people with out an account? Are you sure they don't have an account. If you care to share how that happend then maybe I'll believe you a bit more.
The only way I could see it is that you manually added their numbers.

Well on android it syncs the facebook contacts to my address book on my phone. thats where most of my contacts come from. (and again I have 61 people on my list. All family, friends and formet and current co workers. I do not add ramdom people. To me that died along with myspace years ago) I also sync them with gmail. I have no contacts stored on the phone. Hell even when I add a new contact I store it on Gmail and not the phone. Its all in the "cloud" . I like it that way. So if my friend updates his number on facebook its updated on my phone automatically.
i'm not sure how it works the other way around.
As for the suggestions they are mostly based on your home town(where you grew up or where you are from) and current location (town you live in now) schools and work place. (current and past) Maybe a few other factors as well

The bottom line to this whole issue is that the Facebook app (for iPhone at least) scans your contacts and loads them to their server, regardless of whether or not you ever synced with the app.
I know of two people, besides myself, who never even knew the sync feature existed. However, their contacts (including non-Facebook users) were stored by Facebook in their profiles. Their iPhone app syncing was "OFF" and was never turned "ON"... ever.

I never pressed that button either. BUT when I went to turn it off, it was already OFF. I deleted the app, I'm going to use Facely HD now. (Taken from Installous (No ads))

Google isn't that bad. They are way more private than Facebook. Facebook has a history of creating features that misuse your information and then having you turn it off at the latter even though the damage has already been done.

With the recent changes to Facebook profiles, ticker feeds, subscribing, etc., FB has changed the screen layouts making the instructions included in this post obsolete. The contact info is likely still stored on FB if you didn't purge it when this story first publicized the issue, but the method to get to the setting to purge the info does not match the steps above. And I don't know what the new steps are. Anybody?

Heya i'm for the first time here. I came across this board and I to find It really helpful & it helped me out much. I'm hoping to offer one thing back and help others such as you helped me.