Now Users Can Remove Contacts Automatically Saved by Facebook’s Friend Finder

Two weeks ago, many Facebook users began asking questions about curiously good recommendations suddenly appearing in Facebook’s “People You May Know” suggestions list. At the time, many suspected that Facebook was saving contacts imported from Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail, etc., in order to make future recommendations, but Facebook did not explicitly say that anywhere on the site at the time.

Now, that’s changed: within the last few days, Facebook has added the following message when you click a new “Learn More” link on the contact importer:

In addition, Facebook has added this new tool which allows users to delete contacts uploaded through the Friend Finder that Facebook auto-stored. According to the page, “Facebook uses the email addresses you upload through the Friend Finder to help you connect with friends, including using this information to generate Suggestions for you and your contacts on Facebook.” In other words, if your friends upload their contacts to Facebook, they could start showing up in your Suggestions list too.

As we wrote two weeks ago:

If Facebook is indeed storing imported contacts for the purposes of future friend suggestions, it should make that more clear. Because Facebook appears to only be using that information to make helpful friend suggestions, most users would not be concerned. Facebook generally has very high standards when it comes to user privacy, and not giving users the choice to not have their imported contacts saved isn’t worth “spooking” users who don’t want to see people they’ve emailed in the past showing up in their suggested friends list in the future.

Facebook has taken an important step in more clearly communicating what it’s doing with imported data, though there are always likely to be some users caught off guard by the nature of these recommendations.

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