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The Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal of Facebook has not been quiet down, but recently, some users has publicly accused that Facebook has uploaded their call history and SMS data in the Facebook account. Soon in local time of 25 March, Facebook has officially launch a public statement that denies it has collected and uploaded call data surreptitiously, saying it’s been obtained the user’s permission.
Part of users downloaded their data on Facebook and found that it contained a history of phone calls between themselves and their families. Soon in this week, Ars Technica reports that Facebook has been requesting access to contacts, SMS data, and call history on Android devices to improve its friend recommendation algorithm and distinguish between business contacts and your true personal friendships.
This past week, a New Zealand man was looking through the data Facebook had collected from him in an archive he had pulled down from the social networking site. While scanning the information Facebook had stored about his contacts, Dylan McKay discovered something distressing: Facebook also had 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.
This experience also has been shared by a number of other Facebook users who spoke with Ars, as well as independently by us—my own Facebook data archive, I found, contained call-log data for a certain Android device I used in 2015 and 2016, along with SMS and MMS message metadata.
Couple of days later, Facebook’s public statement has been posted on its press site, it took out full page newspaper ads to apologize for the misuse of data by third-party apps as it copes with fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal. In the ad, founder and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg wrote “We have a responsibility to protect your information. If we can’t, we don’t deserve it.”
The company’s response to the Ars Technica story in the statement, saying that “call history and SMS data is a feature of Messenger app, and this feature is optional, and we already have access to this section through android.”
“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,” says a Facebook spokesperson, in response to a query from Ars Technica. “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.”
Facebook said this feature does not collect phone calls or text messages, nor does it sell the collected information to a third party.