Facebook Harvested Detailed Call and SMS Logs For Years, Report Says

James Marshall
March 26, 2018

As the post-Cambridge Analytica scandal fallout continues to unfold, some Facebook users are downloading their data from the social media platform and uncovering a surprise: Detailed phone records, including dates, times, call lengths, call recipients, and phone numbers.

"This past week, a New Zealand man was looking through the data Facebook had collected from him in an archive he had pulled down from the social networking site", the report said.

The discovery comes at a moment when all eyes are scrutinizing Facebook's data collection practices.

"Downloaded my facebook data as a ZIP file", McKay writes.

He found call logs for every chat he had with his partner's mother between 2016 and previous year.

Facebook asserts that users have always been asked for their permission.

However, the publication Ars Technica suggests a different possible scenario, rooted in Android's historical permissions settings, may have occurred. This changed in Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and now users can choose to selectively allow or deny specific permissions - it seems that the damage has been done, however. Not all accounts that Bleeping Computer checked had this information stored in the Facebook account backup archive. When you sign up or install the apps, you will be asked if you want to continuously upload your contacts as well. Apple has never allowed access to call metadata, so iOS users should not find any such data in their Facebook archives. They have re-emphasized that this feature is opt-in and can be revoked by the user at any time.

Speaking to Ars Technica, a Facebook representative said: "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".

"People have to expressly agree to use this feature", it expressly expresses.

"Call and text history logging is part of an opt-in feature for people using Messenger or Facebook Lite on Android".

Facebook provides a tool to see which contacts have been uploaded to Messenger, which you can get to here.

We were on a tight deadline with this story, but we have reached out to Facebook with a request for comment on the exact reasons the company was collecting the timestamps of phone calls and SMS texts and what was its goal in the grand scheme of things.

Either way, even if it isn't criminal, it remains extremely creepy. "This was first introduced in Messenger in 2015, and later offered as an option in Facebook Lite, a lightweight version of Facebook for Android". The information is metadata - data pertaining to other data, in this case concerning details of transmissions - but does not include the content of those calls or communications.

To be completely safe, you can also log into Facebook through a web browser, instead of using the app.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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