Whether you have been aware of it or not, Facebook has been collecting call records and SMS data from Android devices for a number of years. Recently, several Twitter users have reported finding months or even years worth of call history data in their downloadable Facebook data file. Following the recent Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal, many Facebook users have been unsettled which has prompted them to download all of the data that Facebook stores on their account. For some, the results were shocking.
“Oh wow my deleted Facebook Zip file contains info on every single phone call, cellphone call and text I made for about a year,” according to Twitter user Mat Johnson. Dylan Mckay, another Twitter user says, “Somehow it has my entire call history with my partner’s mum.”
Facebook has been requesting to access contacts, SMS data and even call history from Android devices apparently to improve its friend recommendation algorithm and gain the ability to distinguish between business contacts and the people who you actually know as close personal friends or family members. Facebook is able to gather this data through the Messenger app, which will prompt Android users to merge their SMS function on their cell phone directly with the app.
You may have noticed that Facebook has recently been prompting Messenger users with an option to “continuously upload all contact data,” which, you guessed it, includes call and text history.
You may be feeling safe or relieved because you have not accepted this invitation or merged your SMS feature with Facebook’s Messenger, but as Ars Technica points out, that the troubling part of this is that Facebook has actually been doing this for years, especially in a time when permissions on Android were less strict. Google changed permissions on Android to make them more clear, but developers could continue to bypass this and access the call and SMS data that was already agreed to.
What Does Facebook Have To Say?
Facebook seems to think that it’s perfectly fine and normal for an app to access your phone call history when you are uploading your contacts on to social apps. “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,” says a Facebook spokesperson, in response to the query from Ars Technica. “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.”
Maybe so, but we are never given much insight as to why they are doing this in the first place. That is the real question here, why are they recording and storing all of this information? According to Mr. Edward Snowden, it’s actually quite simple…
Edward Snowden weighed in on what he feels Facebook is, : a surveillance company.
Facebook makes their money by exploiting and selling intimate details about the private lives of millions, far beyond the scant details you voluntarily post. They are not victims. They are accomplices. https://t.co/mRkRKxsBcw
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) March 17, 2018
Businesses that make money by collecting and selling detailed records of private lives were once plainly described as “surveillance companies.” Their rebranding as “social media” is the most successful deception since the Department of War became the Department of Defense.
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) March 17, 2018
Does This Concern You?
If you’re thinking, I have nothing to hide, why should I be worried? Well, you don’t necessarily need to be worried, but regardless of if you have something to hide or not this is your privacy we are talking about. Some things simply need to be kept private, and we have a right to it. The only real way to avoid this is to either delete Facebook altogether or uninstall the messenger app. With so much controversy lately over privacy issues and censorship, Facebook is really digging themselves a big hole. Will this be the push to finally get people to leave and find a different social media platform? It’s possible, but with Facebook so heavily embedded in our modern society, it’s almost hard to imagine a life without it, but perhaps it is time.
Now if you’re thinking, how ironic that I saw this article posted on Facebook, well, this is a great point, but as of now there are still so many active users on Facebook that it is necessary to for this type of content to be seen, even though Facebook has completely cut down the organic reach for all pages. Let’s not forget about the amount of censorship that is going on as well. That being said, Facebook is obviously still useful in so many ways, but it just seems that some changes need to be made.
What do you think? Is it finally time to ditch Facebook or should we be in control of monitoring our own security more closely? Let us know in the comments section.
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