It’s hard to imagine Facebook getting any more flak than it currently is thanks to the debacle surrounding Cambridge Analytica, but it seems that the company has once again landed itself in more controversy. Long-term Android users noticed over the weekend that the platform had been collecting phone call and text history without permission. Facebook, however, claims that this has always been “an opt-in only” feature.
Software developer Dylan McKay found the option buried within Facebook’s General Settings, allowing him to download data from his profile that ultimately revealed text and call information. According to Ars Technica, this is apparently thanks to Android 4.0 Jelly Bean or prior, that allowed Facebook to access its mobile users’ smartphone contacts by default.
“You may have seen some recent reports that Facebook has been logging people’s call and SMS (text) history without their permission. This is not the case,” Facebook’s statement said as it tried to wash its hands of the responsibility.
“Call and text history logging is part of an opt-in feature for people using Messenger. While we receive certain permissions from Android, uploading this information has always been opt-in only. People have to expressly agree to use this feature.”
The data it does have under its belt is supposedly safe on secure servers, assures the platform, and it has no intention of selling the data onto third-parties. Facebook has given the option to purge this data for its users, but it is unsure what information and metadata this pertains to in particular.
Users of Apple’s iOS remain unaffected by the latest controversy. This is all likely the cause of the majority of people not reading the terms and conditions they are agreeing to; however, it is also another example of the extensive permissions the social media platform has asked for. You can find out what data your Facebook has collected by going into your General Settings.
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KitGuru Says: I am currently in the process of downloading my own data, although the process can take a while. The information that Facebook itself says users can find when they download their settings unsurprisingly makes no mention of the harvested smartphone data such as calls and texts made outside of the application. Do you feel like the platform could have been clearer?