ALERT: Facebook Phonebook Is Not A Security Threat

-Error Icon-There’s a viral message going around on Facebook suggesting that users need to alert their friends to the fact that their phone numbers are being published. While your friends may be able to see your phone number (based on the privacy settings you’ve set), this is not a security glitch. Instead the phonebook is a feature which is intended to give you an easy resource for finding all of your friends’ contact information. However if you don’t want to share your phone number with your friends, here’s how to do it.

Facebook Phonebook, What?!?

Before explaining how to hide your phone number from friends, I thought it would be useful to post the message which is spreading around so it can be debunked:

*WARNING**Go to the top right of your screen, click Account & then click Edit Friends. Go to the left side of your screen and click Phonebook. Everyone’s phone # is being published. Please repost to let your friends know of this change in security, so that they can remove their phone numbers or change their privacy settings…

This feature is actually extremely old. It’s also pretty useful. Facebook even provides syncing features with a lot of phones that enable the phone numbers to be imported so that you don’t need to manually enter the number of every friend.

How To Hide Your Phone Number On Facebook

If for some reason you don’t want all of your friends viewing your phone number (I personally limit it to my family and close friends), you have two options: remove it from your profile or use Facebook’s privacy settings. The problem with not entering your phone number is that Facebook actually uses the number to verify that it’s your actual account. As such, I don’t recommend using this model. Instead, go to the privacy settings area (found here) and click on the custom tab on the left, and then on the “Customize Settings” link, as pictured below.

Custom Privacy 2 Steps

After you’ve landed on the custom privacy settings page, scroll down to the “Contact Information” area. In that area you’ll see settings for each of your contact items including your phone, address, IM screen name, and any email addresses you have added to your account. You can customize who can view each piece of information by clicking on the drop down box next to “Mobile phone” or “Other phone” and then select “Custom”. Once you do that, you should see the following dialog box:

Custom Privacy Dialog

Ultimately it’s up to you how you set your phone number visibility, however I have limited my number to friends only. If you want to get really specific with the people who can view your phone number you can select the option “Specific People…” and then manually type in the name of each person who can have access to your phone number. Alternatively, you can block anybody on the site (including your friends) from seeing your phone number by selecting the option “Only Me”.

Debunked and Safe!

Now that you know the phonebook feature is not a security glitch and is instead a useful feature, you should no longer be alarmed by the issue. Additionally, if you want to control how your friends see your phone number, this quick guide should help you!

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Thanks to Rob Hoffmann for the tip!