Facebook Confirms Android Text and Call Histories are Recorded
Users are downloading their Facebook data to see just how much Facebook is recording.
- By Sydny Shepard
- Mar 27, 2018
Facebook has had a bumpy 2018 to say the least. The social network is under fire after news broke that data firm Cambridge Analytics had been abusing the Facebook platform to download unauthorized data from over 50 million users. Now, users are downloading their own data from Facebook just to see what all the platform has recorded.
A developer, Dylan McKay, talked about his Facebook data in a thread of tweets last week that has since gone viral. McKay downloaded his own data from his account only to find that the platform had recorded data like the contacts in his phone (even contacts he no longer had), a log of incoming and outgoing phone calls and the metadata of his SMS texts, despite the fact he did not use the Facebook Messenger app to send SMS text messages.
Four days after the tweets went viral, Facebook confirmed that it had been recording the call history on Android phones, and attempted to tamp down some of the criticism by emphasizing that the effected users had opted in to the process.
"Call and text history logging is part of an opt-in feature for people using Messenger and Facebook Life on Android," the company wrote. "This helps you find and stay connected with the people you care about, and that provides you with a better experience across Facebook."
The company says that once enabled, the Messenger app begins to "continuously upload your contacts as well as your call and text history," but stressed that they do not record the text messages themselves or record the audio of phone calls. They also emphasized the fact that the data recorded was not sold.
Facebook did not say how many users had their history recorded, but there are 1.2 billion Facebook Messenger users as of 2017 and the Android operating system dominate 80 percent of the smartphone market. As of now, iPhone users do not seem to be affected.
As a result of all the data security incidents surrounding the social media platform, the Federal Trade Commission announced on Monday that they would be opening a non-public investigation into the privacy practices of the company.
Sydny Shepard is the Executive Editor of Campus Security & Life Safety.