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Facebook deny reading text messages on smartphones

Facebook, the social networking giant have been accused of accessing and reading personal text messages from users on their smartphones according to a report published yesterday in the Sunday times. Facebook have apparently admitted that they accessed personal data on users phones during a test of their own messaging service.

While it sounds inoffensive to be testing their own messaging service, the security concerns have been raised by a select audience.

Facebook issued a statement on the subject which read:

“There is no reading of user text messages. On the Android App store, the Facebook app permissions include SMS read/write.

The reason it is on there is because we have done some testing (not with the general public) of products that require the SMS part of the phone to talk to the Facebook App.  That’s what the read&write refers to – the line of communication needed to integrate the two things.

Lots of communications apps use these permissions. Think of all those apps that act as replacements to the build-in sms software.

That’s not necessarily what we’re working on.  SMS can be used for carrier billing (where users opt to pay for things like apps through their phone bill).  Again – that’s not to say we’re launching this. It’s just an example of why an app might use these permissions.  The Sunday Times leaped to the conclusion that is was a messaging feature.

Anyway – we have yet to make any such features available to the public. (so the Sunday Times is completely wrong when it says Facebook is reading people’s SMS. Wrong on the terminology, and wrong on the suggestion that it has been implemented).

But Facebook is right to insert this into the Android app permissions  – because yes, the app technically has the capability to integrate with the phone’s SMS system – even if that is just for our own testing.”

Kitguru says: Have people anything to worry about?

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