Facebook introduced its Messenger app this week, and it’s stolen the spotlight. It’s being compared to BlackBerry Messenger, and called an SMS killer–generally, winning Facebook heaps of praise. Unfortunately, a user oversight that has spiraled into a viral privacy scare is also getting the social network some attention.
If you’ve been on Facebook today, you likely saw this message (or something like it) somewhere (or everywhere) in your News Feed:
“OMG this is for real everyone!!!! Warning to ALL …ALL THE PHONE NUMBERS IN YOUR PHONE are now on Facebook! No joke – go to the top right of the screen, click on Account, then click on Edit Friends, go left on the screen and click Contacts. All phone numbers are published!! Please re-post this on your Status, so you r friends can remove their numbers and thus prevent abuse if they do not want them published.”
The general conclusion was that the new Messenger application had something to do with this Facebook phone book, but that is not the case. Your friends’ numbers have been synced to Facebook for awhile–a long while. Either your friends have added their phone numbers to their own profiles or you have one of the Facebook smartphone apps, which automatically syncs with your phone’s address book. You are the only one who can see this compilation of your friends’ phone numbers.
There you have it: Another Facebook freak out over a function that, in this case, was already there. But if it’s just being brought to your attention and you’re none-too-pleased about it, there is a fix. Like the over-hyped message reads, go to Account and then Edit Friends. Click Contacts, which is on the top left. Read the following message click the “visit this page” link. From there, follow the “Remove Imported Contacts” instructions.