Facebook scraped call, text message data for years from Android phones


Users who made use of Facebook via its Windows Phone and iOS apps would have had no such issues as neither platform offered up the relevant APIs. In both cases, users may have known they were granting some data access to Facebook and its advertising clients, but the true extent of that sharing was obscured.

The ZIP file contains the list of advertisers who have your contact information, the keywords advertisers use to target ads on your timeline, every ad you have ever clicked on, third-party apps linked with your Facebook account, and all IP addresses you've logged in from.

Really, this isn't so much a shocking revelation as a reminder that many people have explicitly granted permission to Facebook and its apps without realizing what data they were offering up in the process.

In the wake of the latest Facebook scandal, specifically its user data being collected and mis-used by Cambridge Analytica, it's been discovered that the social network's Android app was able to harvest an alarming amount of call and text message data from users without their explicit knowledge. The majority of iOS apps can not access call history or SMS messages, and Facebook's iOS app is not able to capture this data on an iPhone.

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Ars Technica reported Saturday that some Facebook users had discovered years' worth of phone call metadata in their downloadable Facebook data file. When you have downloaded the archive, extract it, and look in the HTML folder for a file called contact_info.htm. "While we receive certain permissions from Android, uploading this information has always been opt-in only", the world's largest social media network said.

In response to an email inquiry about this data gathering by Ars, a Facebook spokesperson replied, "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".

"You may have seen some recent reports that Facebook has been logging people's call and SMS (text) history without their permission". When users do ask to permanently delete their accounts, the company suggests: "You may want to download a copy of your info from Facebook".