How To Avoid iOS 6 Facebook Contact Sync Hijacking Your Contact Info

Today is the day when millions of people will be able to download Apple’s latest operating system, iOS 6. This is an exciting day, but also somewhat scary.

Many people will use the new Facebook contact sync feature that has been integrated into iOS 6 to pull in the photos and phone numbers of your friends. It was my understanding that the sync will swap out any exisiting contact info you have for your friends with the information that is stored on Facebook. But that does not appear to be the case. A Facebook spokeswoman explained it as follows:

“Facebook’s integration into Apple’s iOS6 will allow people to sync their Facebook friends’ profile information to their Contacts. This means that any visible email address on your friends’ timelines will be synced to your phone. If you already have an existing email address for that contact, any additional address from Facebook will be added to it. You can always control which email addresses get synced by selecting your preferred visibility setting next to your contact information section on your timeline.”

This summer Facebook made a change to everyone’s profiles and automatically hid your email address, replacing it with a shiny new email address that goes directly to your Facebook messaging inbox rather than to an email inbox. So, in essence, they hijacked millions of people’s emails and sent them to Facebook.

In my opinion, this was a rather intrusive move by Facebook and I was upset about it back in June when I realized all the emails from fans, friends and followers were headed to Facebook. So to avoid getting your email directed to Facebook’s messaging inbox, you have to change the settings on your Facebook page to hide the address and show your regular email address.

To undo the changes that Facebook decided everyone could not live without, follow these steps:

  1. On your Facebook profile, click on “About ” on the left side below your cover photo.
  2. On the bottom right side, click on “Edit” in the Contact Info section.
  3. Next to any personal email addresses that you want people to see on Facebook, switch “Hidden from Timeline” to “Shown on Timeline” on the right dropdown menu.
  4. Just to the left, select which groups of people can see that email address with the privacy control.
  5. Hide your address if you don’t want email messages going to your Facebook messaging inbox (which I rarely check).

I hope this post saves you from a lot of headaches that could occur if people start sending messages to your Facebook message inbox. Hat tip to TechCrunch for bringing this to our attention today.

Personally, I am going to pass on Facebook contact sync for the time being. I also hope that companies like Facebook and others put a little more thought and care into making changes that affect millions of users, thus forcing everyone to eat their dog food. I’d suggest following the old saying: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But I also understand that with an underwhelming IPO, there is pressure to drive additional engagement. Directing all emails to Facebook is definitely one way to do it.

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Written by:
Frank Gruber is the cofounder, CEO and Executive Editor of Tech.Co (formerly Tech Cocktail). He is the author of the book, Startup Mixology, Tech Cocktail’s Guide to Building, Growing, and Celebrating Startup Success. He is also a startup advisor and investor to startups. Find Frank Gruber online and follow him on Twitter at @FrankGruber.
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