We’ve previously reported on Facebook’s irresponsible handling of user email contacts. This brazen disregard for privacy has already launched a firestorm for the Silicon Valley giant, but the full extent of damage isn’t even totally known yet. What’s more, the company still isn’t saying where that data has gone since being uploaded without users’ consent.
Although Facebook is no longer using the faulty login that caused the whole debacle, most people who had their contacts harvested by Facebook won’t know unless the company decides to email them about the issue personally. Thankfully, there’s a workaround that not only lets users see if their contacts were uploaded, but lets you delete them as well.
If you opened a new Facebook account at any time since 2016, your data has been collected. Checking the status of your information is always a good practice — even if it’s just for peace of mind. I’ll show you all the steps to get your data, along with how to delete it from Facebook’s hungry servers.
How to check if Facebook uploaded your contacts
If you’re not keen on waiting for an official statement from Facebook, you can check the status of your contacts using Facebook’s settings. If you’re logged in on your smartphone, you’ll want to tap the “hamburger” icon, which looks like three lines and select “Settings” from here. On a desktop, click on the downwards pointing arrow and choose Settings.
Next, you’ll need to find the “Your Facebook Information” section and click on “Access Your Information.” In here, there is a section that reads “Information About You.” If you select “About You,” you can access your address books and contacts.
Related: 10 reasons to dump Facebook in 2019
On this Uploaded Contacts page, you’ll see any contacts that Facebook has imported. If you see contacts there, you have the option to “Delete All” and remove them from Facebook’s servers for good. If none are present, you’re in the clear — but keep reading to find out how to lock down your privacy settings.
How to stop Facebook from capturing your email addresses and contacts
Facebook’s data mongering can be stopped, but you’ll need to do it on every device you own individually. As tedious as that sounds, it’s worth keeping you and your loved ones out of Facebook’s watchful eyes.
To begin, you’ll tap the hamburger icon again and go to “Settings & Privacy.” You’ll enter “Settings” from here. Inside this menu is a section called “Media and Contacts.” A button that reads “Upload Contacts” allows Facebook to gather your contact data.
Leaving this button on, to Facebook, is equivalent to consenting to your data being harvested. It’s likely mentioned somewhere in the epic terms and conditions document that nobody expects you to read, but for now, just turn it off. You’ll be glad you did.