Published: Mon, March 26, 2018
Research | By Clarence Powell

Facebook slurped up phone and sms data from Android phones

Facebook slurped up phone and sms data from Android phones

A social media user, Dylan McKay from New Zealand, downloaded his Facebook archive and was shocked to discover that almost two years' worth of call and text logs from his Android phone were included.

The company also highlights the fact that contact uploading is optional, and points out that permission has to be granted to give access to contacts - although it's fair to say that this permission would have been granted quite some time ago and it may not have been obvious at the time.

Facebook's access was enabled in part by the Android operating system, which in older versions granted permission to access call logs along with contacts.

Facebook has been uploading SMSs and phone logs of Android users, an Ars Technica investigation found this weekend.

The website ars technica reported that users who checked data collected by Facebook found that it had two or more years of contact names, telephone numbers, call lengths and text messages.

More news: Troopers to patrol at Florida school where massacre happened

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. Requesting access to phone contacts is indeed common in smartphone apps, but it seems highly unlikely users realized that permission also granted access to detailed phone records.

While some users' information is logged, the social media site said the function "has always been opt-in only".

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, more Facebook users have become increasingly educated about the data they're sharing with the platform, and how that information is being used. Apps like Facebook could, however, bypass this API change by targeting lower APIs until Google finally deprecated it in October 2017.

Facebook said the feature doesn't collect the contents of calls or texts, and information collected isn't sold to third parties.

As always, if you're really concerned about privacy, you should not share address book and call-log data with any mobile application.

Like this: