Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, quietly released a new tool earlier this year that allows you to remove your phone number and email address from the tech giant’s database.
As I mentioned interested in trade (Opens in a new tab) — who learned about the feature from a mentor — the tool has been available since May 2022, but the social media giant hasn’t really promoted it or said anything about it publicly. Instead, the tool is hidden under a file support page (Opens in a new tab) for non-users.
If you scroll down the page linked above, you can find the tool in the section titled How Non-Users Can Exercise Their Rights. At the bottom of this section, you will find the following line: “Click here if you have a question about the rights you may have.” Surprisingly, this line doesn’t mention the tool at all but if you click on the click here link, you will be taken to the contact info removal tool.
Although this tool is designed for those who do not use Facebook or Instagram, anyone can use it to remove their phone number or email address from the Meta database.
The reason why Meta created this tool in the first place is because Facebook and Instagram allow users to sync contacts from their smartphone with their services. However, in doing so, you do not give your contacts consent to have their phone number or email address uploaded to the company’s database.
On the page with its contact removal tool, Meta provides more information on why someone would want to use it in the first place, saying:
“Someone may have uploaded their address book to Facebook, Messenger or Instagram with your contact information in it. You can ask us to confirm whether we have your phone number or email address. If we do, you can ask us to delete it from the database. Our address book data. To prevent it from being uploaded to this database again by someone’s address book, we need to keep a copy on our block list.”
Back when Facebook was still growing, the company often asked users of its mobile apps to sync their contacts with the social network in order to help them find friends on its platform. However, this resulted in Meta having a wealth of contact information including details about people not using any of its services.
Regardless of whether you have a Facebook or Instagram account, you may want to use the new Meta tool to remove your mobile number, landline number, or email address from the company’s database.
To do this, you first need to Click here to access the tool (Opens in a new tab)Because it can be hard to find on your own. When you open the tool, you can make Meta search its database to see if it contains your phone number or email address. Choose the person you want to search for and click Next.
From here, you need to enter the email address or phone number you want to search and decide if you want Meta to verify it on Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, or both. Once you have entered this information, click Next.
If someone has synced their contacts with Facebook or Instagram and your email address or phone number has been uploaded to the Meta database, you will see a page like the image below. By clicking “Confirm” you can have Meta delete your contact information from its database and block it so it won’t be uploaded again.
However, before Meta can remove your contact information, the company will send you a confirmation code via email or text message. Enter the confirmation code in the box and click “Next” to remove your contact information from the company’s database.
Once Meta has removed your contact information from its database, you will see a message like the one below confirming that the request was successful.
There you have it – your email address and phone number have now been removed from the Meta database. Keep in mind that if you change your email address or phone number, you may need to repeat this process because someone you know may end up syncing your new number or email address with the Meta Services again.