It’s another possible data scandal for Facebook: This time, the social media site has been caught collecting call records and SMS data from Android devices.
According to Ars Technica, some 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.
“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,” said a Facebook spokesperson when contacted about the data collection. “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.”
In fact, Facebook does utilize the information as part of its algorithm used to make friend recommendations. And recently, users have been directly asked for permission by the site to collect data through the Messenger application for Android and Facebook Lite devices.
However, even if users didn't give that permission to Messenger in the past, they may have given it inadvertently through Facebook's mobile apps – a result of the way Android handled permissions for accessing call logs years ago.
So far, it doesn't look like iOS devices were subjected to the same call record and data collection.
This news comes as the social media site deals with fallout from the revelation that Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, was able to access data on 50 million Facebook users beginning in 2014. The firm then allegedly went on to use the data to help Donald Trump's presidential campaign.