Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Facebook denies logging users' calls, texts without permission

Dylan McKay Dylan Mc Kay @dylanmckaynz
Grady Vargas | 26 March, 2018, 02:23

People can also delete contact data from their profiles by using a tool available on Web browsers, Facebook stated. "This is not the case", Facebook said in a statement.

It all boils down to Android permissions, and how Facebook's mobile app was taking advantage of an earlier versions of Android to collect a surprising amount of sensitive information. But even if users didn't give that permission to Messenger, they may have given it inadvertently for years through Facebook's mobile apps-because of the way Android has handled permissions for accessing call logs in the past. In looking at his grandmother's data dump, he also discovered that Facebook had been collecting SMS records from 2015 to 2017.

If you granted permission to read contacts during Facebook's installation on Android a few versions ago - specifically before Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) - that permission also granted Facebook access to call and message logs by default.

"You may have seen some recent reports that Facebook has been logging people's call and SMS (text) history without their permission".

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The social media site said that when the feature is enabled by the user and contact information is uploaded, the platform can then use the given data when a call or text was made or received with Facebook Lite and Facebook Messenger services.

Facebook uses phone-contact data as part of its friend recommendation algorithm.

Ars Technica reported Saturday that some Facebook users had discovered years' worth of phone call metadata in their downloadable Facebook data file. Apps like Facebook could, however, bypass this API change by targeting lower APIs until Google finally deprecated it in October 2017. After purging my contact data, my contacts and calls were still in the archive I downloaded the next day-though this may be because the archive was still the same cache I had requested on Friday. Android eventually changed the way this permission worked in version 16 of its API.

If you want to check to see if Facebook has been gathering the same information from you, you can do by visiting your account settings and selecting the Download a copy of your Facebook data option. They say the data is used "to improve people's experience across Facebook" by helping to connect with others.

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