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Facebook uploaded millions of users’ contacts without their knowledge

Facebook uploaded millions of users’ contacts without their knowledge
[Photo: Kev Costello/Unsplash]

Another day, another Facebook data scandal. This time the scandal involves Facebook uploading the complete address books of 1.5 million new users without their consent. Facebook said these new users’ contacts were “unintentionally uploaded” since May 2016, reports Business Insider.

Here’s why Facebook says this mistake happened. Prior to May 2016, Facebook offered an option for new users to verify their email account and upload all their contacts from that email account at the same time. The uploading of contacts was so Facebook could see who you knew and make friend recommendations based on your contacts.

But in May 2016, Facebook said it changed the feature to disable automatic contact upload and removed the text stating that a user’s contacts would be automatically uploaded at the same time they granted access to their email account so they could verify their account.

The problem is, the automatic upload of user contacts wasn’t actually removed from the feature–only the text telling people about the automatic contacts uploads was. This resulted in 1.5 million new Facebook users having their contacts uploaded without their knowledge or consent.

Here’s Facebook’s statement on the matter:

Last month we stopped offering email password verification as an option for people verifying their account when signing up for Facebook for the first time. When we looked into the steps people were going through to verify their accounts, we found that in some cases people’s email contacts were also unintentionally uploaded to Facebook when they created their account. We estimate that up to 1.5 million people’s email contacts may have been uploaded. These contacts were not shared with anyone and we’re deleting them. We’ve fixed the underlying issue and are notifying people whose contacts were imported. People can also review and manage the contacts they share with Facebook in their settings.

If you want to check if Facebook has your contacts (with or without your consent), you can go to the Manage Your Contacts settings on Facebook (you need to be logged in to Facebook when you click the link). From there, click the “Delete All” button and Facebook should delete all your contacts that they uploaded. And don’t worry: Deleting your contacts from Facebook will not delete your Facebook friends.

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