Facebook’s phone number caper

If you’re on Facebook, one of your friends has probably posted this ominous warning about the latest alleged Facebook privacy violation:


REPOST: 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 on Contacts. All phone numbers from your phone (FB friends or not) are published. Please repost this on your Status, so your friends can remove their numbers and thus prevent abuse if they do not want them published

“If a friend hasn’t included her number on her Facebook profile, it looks as though Facebook has just given you her number when in reality it came from your own phone,” the website, Mashable, says.

But, it points out, Facebook isn’t giving you anything you didn’t already have. The numbers came from your contacts list on your cellphone.

“Our Contacts list, formerly called Phonebook, has existed for a long time,” a Facebook statement says. “The phone numbers listed there were either added by your friends themselves and made visible to you, or you have previously synced your phone contacts with Facebook. Just like on your phone, only you can see these numbers.”

Nonetheless, Facebook’s matching of data is impressive, and scary. If it finds a number in your cellphone that matches a number someone has posted on Facebook, it will suggest you “friend” that person.

This 1999 project from MPR on privacy seems more quaint every day.