iOS 6 can pull someone’s full name and Facebook photo based on a phone number alone

By , Sep 27, 2012

I’m risking of stating the obvious with this one, but I’d bet my shirt many of your were unaware of this little trick. As you know, Facebook integration in iOS 6 and OS X Mountain Lion can automagically update photos and user names for all matching contacts. What you may not have known is that Apple only needs a person’s phone number to pull this data.

So if a girl you met at a bar last night left you just her phone number, you can easily get her Facebook profile picture to appear on your iPhone when she happens to call you – even if you’re not friends with her on Facebook and even if her profile is hidden on Facebook. Plus, you’ll get her full name in Contacts. How cool is that?

TechCrunch has the story, based on an interesting catch by Daniel Ioffe.

This started yesterday because a friend of mine tried setting me up on a blind date. He sent me a girl’s phone number and I registered it into my phone and just started chatting with her.

I only had her name and phone number. Then I Updated All Contacts with iOS 6 and boom I all of a sudden had her full name in the form of her Facebook user name and her photo.

This works even if a person hid their profile on Facebook. Plus, Facebook integration in iOS 6 will take care of updating your empty contact (sans a phone number) with their full name on Facebook.

This is actually a Facebook feature rather than an iOS bug. To prevent total strangers to pull useful Facebook data using your phone number, go to the “How You Connect” section of your Privacy Settings page, hit the Edit Settings and choose Friends under the ”Who can look you up using the email address or phone number you provided?” section.

This ensures that only your friends can type in your email address or phone number into the Facebook search field to get to your profile. The same restriction applies to third-party apps that talk to Facebook, including iOS.

Summing up: based on just a phone number alone, Facebook integration in iOS 6 will update your iOS Contact entry with that person’s Facebook profile photo and full name, in addition to their Facebook email address and possibly other data, depending on how much they share on their Facebook profile.

If you change default “Everyone” setting in the “How You Connect” section of your Privacy Settings page on Facebook, none of your Facebook information (like your full name or profile photo) will populate iOS Contacts of random people who happen to have your phone number.

Now, you probably know that iOS can also add all of your Facebook contacts and calendar items to stock Contacts and Calendar apps.

Specifically, when you give Facebook access to your Contacts and Calendar under Settings, iOS creates new contact and calendar groups on your device, containing Facebook-specific entries.

In other words, all you Facebook friends will be added to a new Facebook group in Contacts. What’s more, the new contact group is live updated as your friends change their Facebook profile photo, phone number, email address and so forth.

This can have undesired consequences as your friends’ birthdays will be added as reminders to iOS Calendar.

Of course, you can always choose to hide Facebook contacts in the Contacts app and/or Facebook events in Calendar, plus disable birthday reminders.

CNET has a nice article on understanding Facebook integration in iOS 6.

This is a rather complex issue so feel free to share your tips down in comments.

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  • http://twitter.com/ashio83 Ash

    Scary.

  • DjFoued_D32

    Awesome !!

  • Cc999

    Same with Twitter

  • http://twitter.com/wmyolo William Melendez

    Sounds like trouble for me . Getting caught up in the game lol

  • http://www.facebook.com/srikanth4285 Srikanth Chagarlamudi

    I have noticed this in iOS 6 Beta-1

  • ghettocowboy

    very creepy.

  • Matthew Agostino

    There is no way to stop this from happening? What if I never gave facebook my phone number, how would it match my profile?

    • No Whammy

      Stay in school, kids.

  • http://twitter.com/ihxclos Carlitos 

    They’re watching us!

  • Polysyllabic Pseudonym

    How is this a problem for those who decide to use this trick?

    I mean even if I don’t use this feature, those who have my number in their phonebook can pull up my facebook, right?

    It looks like there is no downside for using it as you will find out about more about every number in your phonebook with dealing with calendar/events (since that can be disabled).

    Scary.

  • http://www.facebook.com/LethoeshatedadedicatedfatherGreen Keith Green

    Sweet!

  • http://www.facebook.com/dannyyamonto Danny Montoya

    I don’t like the fact that it somehow creates two Facebook profile links under te contact’s information and the called ID picture is small since the pictures are being synced..!

    • Falk M.

      yupp… I’d also like to know exactly at ONE glance which info is cloud-based (Facebook) and which is SAFELY STORED locally (or at least independently in MY iCloud account).

      I want my address book to be up to date and not incomplete with third party dependencies attached to it.
      Yuck

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1485505115 Josh Spankit

    Needs more granular control; Apple has never understood the desire to have aquaintences and friends.

  • http://policydiary.com/ John S. Wilson

    Horrible reporting. Seems like very few blogs want to do the most basic of research. This is how Facebook website currently works. Using a phone number or email in the search bar pulls up profiles. Not new. And many users have said Android works similarly. Instead of writing crap, do some research first!

    • http://twitter.com/Froast_ Froast

      The main idea is that it is integrated into iOS 6.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kooolaj Anuj Mali

    that rows of icons are getting boring .. Apple should do some thing better to UI …..
    Apps runs great but wen u quit app/game u cme back to rows and rows of icons ..
    and on iphone 5 one additional row :D

  • maurid

    Not creepy at all. You decide whether you want your Facebook profile yo show your phone number or not. By doing that, you basically agree to Facebook showing your phone number, or being identified on Facebook based on your phone number. I mean, it’s up to you.

  • babiloe

    Hmm That photo and name can be done on my first Blackberry ago, even for unknown person that has facebook. i had it (Bold 9700) at 2009.

    I am waiting to long for it on Iphone, first facebook photo contact sync (now gone on facebook app) and must use photosync app on 5.1.1, both only for the accepted friends.

  • MartynasMontrimas

    Finally!

  • iamlynda

    So for clarification, if I don’t want FB to allow anyone to get my info I just lock the phone number?

  • http://twitter.com/sharmanhall sharmanhall

    Is there a way to do this just with Apple’s iCloud service?
    Can I go to my contacts on the “Contacts” section of iCould.com and “Update All Contacts”?
    Because I am on iOS 5.1.1 and don’t want to update until the jailbreak

  • Rosemary Bell

    A colleague of mine recently was very very frightened because a stranger’s facebook profile p (a man with a semi-naked menacing photo) seemed to have attached itself to the contact she had for her voicemail.
    My guess is that he had told facebook that that was his number for a joke and it had helpfully added him to her phone. She does not know this person and has 0 facebook friends in common. She is not very technologically advanced and had thought this man was targetting her or that he had sent her a virus and that she couldn’t trust anything in her phone anymore, she was quite shaken up and upset.
    Does anyone else think this feature caused this? If not what else might have?