Facebook is being accused of maintaining a record with data about calls and text messages (SMS). The case was discovered last week by a New Zealand user and caught the attention of the international press. The social network computes the phone numbers and names, but also the day, time and duration of calls. Mark Zuckerberg's network defended itself on Sunday (25). In a post on the company's official blog, Facebook says that data collection to offer a better experience on Messenger and Facebook Lite and that it does not pass on or sell this data to third parties.
Another user privacy controversy hits Facebook Photo: Marvin Costa / TechTudo
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This new case comes amidst the turmoil experienced by Facebook in recent days on account of Cambridge Analytica. About 50 million people had information leaked to the political marketing company.
That was what motivated Dylan McKay to pull all the data from the social network: through the settings it is possible to make a copy of everything that Facebook has registered. In analyzing the information, the Neo-Zealanders saw that the network had stored two years of calls and messages made from an Android smartphone. The log contained the complete record, including whether a call was made or received, the name, duration, date and telephone number of the contact.
Facebook uses the information collected for the friendship suggestion algorithm – add a friend on WhatsApp and the contact appears as a suggestion also on the social network, an example. Access to this data is only done if the user gives permission to the contact list of the cell phone. This is done in a more explicit way now on Facebook Lite and Messenger. But it was not always so.
Call log available on Facebook Photo: Reproduo / Ars Technica
Up to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, after allowing access to the contact list, the application could automatically see information about calls, SMS and MMS. From then on, the system stopped collecting this information by default. The problem that even after this modification the developers could still force the visualization of this data, through the old API. That's what Facebook did.
Google s corrected this loophole in Android in October 2017, when it completely canceled the use of the API of the past version. As a result, Facebook also stopped recording cell phone calls and messages, as users on the Internet report. On iOS (iPhone) it always worked differently. Some apps may have this type of access, but only with permission from Apple – as is not the case with Facebook.
Facebook Messenger requests synchronization with cell phone contacts Photo: Reproduo / Gabriel Ribeiro
The case gained a lot of repercussions in the media and further scratched Facebook's reputation for privacy, already shaken by the Cambridge Analytica case. In response, the social network stated that the call history and text logging is an optional feature of Messenger and Facebook Lite, on Android. Users may or may not agree to use them. In addition, Zuckerberg's company reinforces that it does not sell or provide this information to third parties.
When deleting contacts, records are also deleted Photo: Reproduo / Gabriel Ribeiro
1. Delete the records: in any case, the social network maintains options to delete these records completely. In the link (https://www.facebook.com/mobile/messenger/contacts) you can delete all the numbers of contacts connected to your profile that Facebook has registered. When you click Delete, the metadata for calls and messages is also deleted.
2. Disable synchronization: in Messenger, you can also unsync contacts. In the app, click on your photo to open the configuration menu. Then click on 'People'. Click on Sync Contacts and disable.
3. On Facebook Lite: go to the menu and choose 'Settings'. In 'Application Settings' uncheck the option 'Loading contacts'.
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