Over the weekend, an Ars reported detailed how Facebook has been silently collecting the call logs and SMS history of Android users without their explicit permission. Today, the company has issued a statement regarding the matter clarifying its stance.
Facebook says that the option to log one’s call and SMS history is an opt-in “feature” for users of Facebook Lite for Android or Messenger. It allows the social networking giant to quickly and easily find people they know and stay connected with them.
For Facebook to collect this data though, the user needs to grant it explicit permission, and it can also be turned off from settings. Once this feature is turned off, any data collected by the app is deleted as well. Facebook says that it introduced this feature to its app a couple of years ago and that it is fairly common for social networking apps to import a user’s phonebook so as to connect them to more users.
If a user grants Facebook with access to its phonebook and text history, then this data is continuously uploaded to its servers. This can be verified using Facebook’s data download tool as well.
The social networking giant clarifies that while it collects sensitive user data after their due permission, it does not sell this data to third-party advertisers. Additionally, it does not collect the content of your text messages or calls. Its data collection is only limited to whom you call or message and not the messages that you send.
While this clarification from Facebook should help give peace of mind to some concerned users, the social media giant’s image has taken a huge beating in terms of respecting the privacy of its users after the Cambridge Analytica incident.[Via Facebook]