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

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According to XDA Senior Member erishasnobattery , who posted the fixes: JRO03H had a limit set of messages in 30 minutes, which probably kept all but the most avid texters in the clear. Tags Android 4. Email Address. Subscribe to XDA.

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This experience has been shared by a number of other Facebook users who spoke with Ars, as well as independently by us—my own Facebook data archive, I found, contained call-log data for a certain Android device I used in and , along with SMS and MMS message metadata. In response to an email inquiry by Ars about this data gathering, 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.

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. The spokesperson pointed out that contact uploading is optional and installation of the application explicitly requests permission to access contacts.

And users can delete contact data from their profiles using a tool accessible via Web browser. Facebook uses phone-contact data as part of its friend recommendation algorithm. And in recent versions of the Messenger application for Android and Facebook Lite devices, a more explicit request is made to users for access to call logs and SMS logs on Android and Facebook Lite devices. But even if users didn't give that permission to Messenger, they may have given it inadvertently for years through Facebook's mobile apps—because of the way Android has handled permissions for accessing call logs in the past.

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For Facebook's instructions on turning off continuous contact uploading, go here. If you granted permission to read contacts during Facebook's installation on Android a few versions ago—specifically before Android 4. The permission structure was changed in the Android API in version From Android 4. But until the "Marshmallow" version of Android, even with split permissions, all permissions could still be presented all at once, without users getting the option to decline them individually. So Facebook and other applications could continue to gain access to call and SMS data with a single request by specifying an earlier Android SDK version.

Starting with Marshmallow, users could toggle these permissions separately themselves.

But as many as half of Android users worldwide remain on older versions of the operating system because of carrier restrictions on updates or other issues. Apple iOS has never allowed access to call log data by third-party apps, overt or silently, so this sort of data acquisition was never possible.

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Facebook provides a way for users to purge collected contact data from their accounts, but it's not clear if this deletes just contacts or if it also purges call and SMS metadata. After purging my contact data, my contacts and calls were still in the archive I downloaded the next day—likely because the archive was not regenerated for my new request.

Update: The cached archive was generated once and not updated on the second request. However, two days after a request to delete all contact data, the contacts were still listed by the contact management tool.


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As always, if you're really concerned about privacy, you should not share address book and call-log data with any mobile application. And you may want to examine the rest of what can be found in the downloadable Facebook archive, as it includes all the advertisers that Facebook has shared your contact information with, among other things.

taodistrewozchand.ml Facebook responded to reports that it collected phone and SMS data without users' knowledge in a "fact check" blog post on Sunday. In the response, a Facebook spokesperson stated:. Call and text history logging is part of an opt-in feature for people using Messenger or Facebook Lite on Android. This helps you find and stay connected with the people you care about, and provide you with a better experience across Facebook.