Following tips from some Facebook users Last week, Ars Technica reported that the social network was collecting call logs and text message history from Android devices on which its apps were installed, without users’ permission. The company is now denying that it does this.
Per Ars Technica’s story, call and SMS metadata was found in an archive of personal information collected by Facebook (any user can request a download of their own data to peruse) in their tests. Even after purging their contacts info, the archive still displayed this metadata, which means that Facebook likely isn’t deleting that information off its servers when you ask it to.
Facebook noted in a blog post that when you sign up for Messenger or Facebook Lite on Android, or log into Messenger on an Android device, you’re asked to grant permission to continuously upload your contacts’ info, as well as call and text history. So, technically, Facebook is off the hook in this instance, because users would most likely have opted in.
The obvious problem here is that most people probably don’t know that Facebook is collecting this data, and depending on how long you’ve been using the social network’s apps on Android, it’s hard to figure out if you opted in to allow this. The same functionality isn’t allowed on iOS, so iPhone users haven’t been subject to this particular data collection exercise.
The news shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone who’s been using Facebook for the past few years: data is its business. But in the wake of multiple major scandals, the most recent of which saw an analytics firm grab 50 million users’ personal information without their knowledge, this sort of revelation is that last thing the company needs as it seeks to regain people’s trust.
Not even full-page ads apologizing for the errors in its ways will fix that.
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