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I was surfing through Instagram (Facebook owned social media) recently when I discovered something strange: the app was suggesting friends based on who was in my phone’s contact list, even though I had long ago disabled contacts syncing in the app. 

If you’ve ever granted Facebook access to your contacts, the company likely knows a lot more about your friends than you think. 

Why you should disable contacts syncing

Facebook places synchronization of contacts as a comfort function, which helps to locate individuals you already know about its services. But in fact, the company uses your personal information (and that of your friends’) also subtly (or occasionally not so subtly) in a way that is not always clear.

It might make sense, for instance, to sync your contact list when you first download Messenger to prevent you from chatting with colleagues. You probably don’t understand that you don’t just allow Facebook to match friends with you but also to upload a list of all you understand and use that data to display you ads.

Worse still, once your contact list is shared with one of Facebook’s services, nothing stops you from pursuing this data in all other Facebook-owned applications, as I have lately found. An Instagram spokesman stated that Instagram could also use that data to propose friends for me to pursue because I had once shared my contact information with Messenger.

However, if you understand which settings you want to verify, you can get Facebook out of your contacts. This is how to disable Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram contact synchronization (and remember to inspect all of your device for these environments– just in case).

Go to your settings and scroll through “media and contacts” in the Facebook app. Select the “Upload contacts” button to delete the option.

Tap the profile picture in the upper left corner of the app in the Messenger app and then scroll down to “people”. Make sure “upload contacts” is set to off. The image is above

Select ‘ Account,” contact syncing,’ and ensure that the option is not active. In addition, tap the menu, which looks like three lines, in your profile and select’ settings.’ It should be like the picture above.

Delete previously uploaded contacts

Moreover, now that you’ve changed your contacts syncing settings, you’re not quite done. That’s because simply deactivating syncing doesn’t remove any contacts that have been previously uploaded to Facebook. You can check to see if your contacts have been previously uploaded to Facebook by clicking on this link. Besides, same thing can be done for Messenger here.

If you see a contacts list on either page – and you will definitely see — you can remove it by selecting “delete all contacts.”

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