Facebook Reportedly Collected Some Users' Messaging And Call Histories


The #deletefacebook movement took off following the revelations that Facebook had shared, without their explicit consent, the personal information of 50 million users with a Cambridge psychologist, which had later ended up in the hands of the election consultancy Cambridge Analytica. 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? And users can delete contact data from their profiles using a tool accessible via Web browser.

Already reeling from privacy concerns over the misuse of user data by Cambridge Analytica, a political data company, it is now coming to light that Facebook has been collecting call history and SMS text messaging data from Android phones for the past several years.

Many other users reported unease at the data they discovered being logged, including the contacts of their address books, their calendars, and their friends' birthdays.

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When a user's download of his Facebook data yielded a pretty comprehensive look at his call logs and SMS, eyebrows were raised regarding Facebook's transparency about its level of access.

Facebook's spokesperson also pointed out that uploading contact information is optional and that the mobile app explicitly requests permissions to access contacts.

Not every user will find that their data has been collected in the same way. Google changed this in a later Android API, but even then, Android applications written to earlier versions of the API could continue to harvest data by specifying an earlier Android SDK version. While Apple does allow some specialist apps to access this data in limited ways like blocking spam calls or texts, these apps have to be specifically enabled through a process that's similar to enabling third-party keyboards. Facebook has recently been offering a prompt to "continuously upload" contact data, including call and text history, but it's not clear when this prompt started appearing in relation to the historic data gathering.

In the General tab, click on the "Download a copy of your Facebook data" option.