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Facebook Says It Collected User Data With Permission

Facebook is denying that it collected call records and SMS data from Android devices without users’ permission.

This week, Twitter users reported finding months or even years of call history data in their downloadable Facebook data file.

“Oh wow my deleted Facebook Zip file contains info on every single phone cellphone call and text I made for about a year,” said ‏Twitter user Mat Johnson. And another, Dylan McKay, said he found about two years’ worth of phone call metadata from his Android phone, including names, phone numbers and the length of each call made or received. “Somehow it has my entire call history with my partner’s mum,” he tweeted.

In response, the social media site published a public statement called “Fact Check: Your Call and SMS History.”

“You may have seen some recent reports that Facebook has been logging people’s call and SMS (text) history without their permission,” the company wrote. “This is not the case.”

Facebook then went on to explain that call and text history logging is included with an opt-in feature on Messenger or Facebook Lite for Android that “people have to expressly agree to use” and that they can turn off at any time, which would also delete any call and text data shared with that app.

After the statement, Ars Technica followed up on its initial post, stating that “this ‘fact check’ contradicts several details Ars found in analysis of Facebook data downloads and testimony from users who provided the data.”

“In my case, a review of my Google Play data confirms that Messenger was never installed on the Android devices I used,” wrote Ars Technica IT and national security editor Sean Gallagher. “Facebook was installed on a Nexus tablet I used and on the Blackphone 2 in 2015, and there was never an explicit message requesting access to phone call and SMS data. Yet there is call data from the end of 2015 until late 2016, when I reinstalled the operating system on the Blackphone 2 and wiped all applications.”

Facebook ended its post by assuring its users that “this feature does not collect the content of your calls or text messages. Your information is securely stored and we do not sell this information to third parties. You are always in control of the information you share with Facebook.”

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