I'm making a mobile app similar in functionality with Whatsapp where the user will have to select and contact acquaintances (friends, family, co-workers ..you name it) so I'm just wondering if it's bad to use a social source (faecbook) to pull friends instead of using the phone numbers the user has saved in the phone and make entries from that list.

Do you see any loss or gain in using Facebook to pull acquaintances instead of phone numbers? I would prefer going this route since it's much easier and involves less trouble with international phone codes or people in roaming etc.

One thing that comes to mind is that a phone contact list tends to always be more complete compared to social media but that really differs...I don't know! What's your opinion on this?

EDIT: It's not a messaging application but it uses someone's contacts to perform it's job though

  • Why not give the user the choice? Give them a list of methods for importing contacts.
    – ArtOfCode
    Jul 29, 2014 at 19:44
  • I was honestly trying to avoid phone contacts since it's a lot of trouble to deal with concerning those numbers in agendas that may or may not contain international prefixes. Guess I'm more into trying to determine wether I'm making a bad decision if going for the social import route. Jul 29, 2014 at 20:23
  • Question: If Facebook contacts is the only way you can import acquaintances... then from the user's perspective why should they download your app when facebook's messages do the same job?
    – nightning
    Jul 29, 2014 at 20:25
  • it's not a messaging app but it uses contacts Jul 29, 2014 at 20:49

2 Answers 2


Here's a classic usability answer: "That depends." Will your app facilitate Facebook messaging, or be more like a messaging system dependent on phone numbers? Will your users communicate with their "social media" friends, or might your app be used to communicate with business contacts as well? I lean toward ArtOfCode's suggestion in offering choice. That said, I'm wondering how mining Facebook contacts would result in capturing phone numbers. In my case, my phone contacts are more "real" than my Facebook friends -- I rarely "reach out" to individuals through Facebook. I would be interested in seeing research on that aspect of mobile vs. social communication. The Pew Center released some interesting stats as it marked Facebook's 10th anniversary earlier this year: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/02/03/6-new-facts-about-facebook/

  • Well it's not a messaging app but it uses contacts. I guess I'm more interested to find out what type of contacts weigh more in your opinion when it comes to communication of all sorts. Since you said your phone contacts are more "real" I have to give a +1 on the phone's list instead of facebook Jul 29, 2014 at 20:51

Is your app business focused or more playful/social? Everyone I am doing business with is probably going to be in my phone contacts and not in my facebook friends. I of course will hae friends in my phone contacts, but maybe not all my friends, everyone I have met socially/hung out with, so a complete list of friends, fellow socializers/partygoers would be found in my facebook friends list and not in my phone contacts. So I would say

A. If the app is business/professional focused, use phone contacts.

B. If the app is playful/social/dating use Facebook friends.

  • well...it's not focused but it has a big potential to go the business route but it's usable for anyone in any situation...business or not. I think it's best if I offer multiple sources after alll. Jul 30, 2014 at 17:49

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