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Facebook Harvested Call Logs and SMS Data for Years on Android Phones

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Screenshot 2018 03 25 10 04 32

More fallout has come from Facebook and how it handles user data. ArsTechnica has been able to confirm what many users were sharing on Twitter: Facebook had been logging user call logs and text messages for years on Android devices, after users granted access to contacts:

This past week, a New Zealand man was looking through the data Facebook had collected from him in an archive he had pulled down from the social networking site. While scanning the information Facebook had stored about his contacts, Dylan McKay discovered something distressing: Facebook also had about two years’ worth of phone call metadata from his Android phone, including names, phone numbers, and the length of each call made or received.

As for Facebook’s response to the findings?

“The most important part of apps and services that help you make connections is to make it easy to find the people you want to connect with. So, the first time you sign in on your phone to a messaging or social app, it’s a widely used practice to begin by uploading your phone contacts.”

Facebook said contact uploading is optional, and permission is explicitly required from apps to access contacts. Also, users are able to delete contact data from profiles via a web tool.

Basically, if users allowed an app to read contacts during Facebook’s install dating back to Android 4.1 in 2012 (Jelly Bean), call and message log access was granted as well by default to the social network, unlike iOS, which does not allow access to these logs.

Facebook has been under intense scrutiny for its handling of the Cambridge Analytica user data scandal and is currently being investigated by Canada’s Privacy Commissioner and the FTC in the USA.

Note to self: never let an app have access to my contacts. #neverforget

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  • Manpreet Singh

    Ditch just got deeper. But Facebook will survive no matter what. They have Instagram and whatsapp in their arsenal.

    Gave up all social media few years ago. Couldn’t be happier. I do activate my whatsapp occasionally to message people overseas as most use it, but facebook and instagram were deleted last year

    It’s very difficult in the beginning, but you just get used to it.

  • My 1/2 cents

    WhatsApp is owned by FB. It should be deleted too. Many security analysts more than 6 years ago said FB was scraping data…and not just from Android devices.

  • My 1/2 cents

    Delete whatsapp too. FB owns them.

  • swotam

    Yet another reason I’m glad I never let the scourge that is Android (and by extension Google) infect my device ecosystem. I’d rather use products from a company that respects my privacy.

  • Manpreet Singh

    “I activate it occasionally to message people overseas”

  • erth

    i deleted my facebook app on my phone about 2 years ago for another reason. every week they would update the app with a file of 100mb or more. this is just stupid. i just use chrome to view any facebook posts while on my phone.

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