Following the Cambridge Analytica exposé scandal, several Facebook users have been paranoid about the information the platform may have on them, causing them to download all the data from their Facebook accounts. This has prompted many reports that claim Facebook has been collecting call records and SMS data from many users, especially Android users for many years now.
Many users have reported the “astonishing amount of data” that they’ve found on their Facebook zip files. These files have reportedly contained months and years of call and messaging data. Reports have been made over the past few days mainly via Twitter, fueling outrage and popular demand on the request of the deletion of Facebook.
Facebook offered a response to all those Android metadata collection reports via blog post https://t.co/KCkAKHzpIm
— Ars Technica (@arstechnica) March 26, 2018
How and why Facebook collected data from Android users
Facebook hasn’t been doing anything illegal. This data collection from Android phones has been made consensually through Facebook’s access request on mobile apps. Also, the social media giant has stated that it is normal for apps to access phone call history, as well as contacts in order to achieve a better performance.
Facebook has said also that the access requests made are just to improve its matching system and accuracy when suggesting friends. Ars Technica pointed out that the social media platform has been doing this for years now, and that Android users were more prone to this data collection than iOS users due to Apple’s privacy and security controls.
However, much of this data access has been coming from a time when Android permissions were less strict, meaning that this could occur on a very regular basis with no control given over to users. It was the time of a much less internet-based society, and while Google made a few changes to the Android permission system but app developers did find a way to bypass these restrictions.
On the other hand, iOS users are not as exposed since iPhone devices must enable data access and collection through a process similar to the one made when enabling a new keyboard. This is the reason why there hasn’t been any data collection found on iOS devices to date.
If you are on Android, you should know that @Facebook has recorded data on everyone you’ve ever called, when you call them, how long you talk to them.
— Brianna Wu (@Spacekatgal) March 26, 2018
Facebook strikes back: users agreed to this in the first place
Facebook explained in its own Newsroom blog this Sunday the way data collection functions and what it is used for, claiming that enabling the data access is optional. However, according to Ars, it is concerning for some that the company did not clarify why or what the data is needed or used for. Some remain skeptic about Facebook due to its blog’s lack of informative content for users.
Source: Ars Technica