Facebook has issued a statement in response to recent reports claiming that the social networking site has been keeping a register of the call and text message history of its users without their consent, in an attempt to deny yet another privacy malpractice. Facebook says in the statement that it only logs the call and SMS history of the Messenger or Facebook Lite users on Android if they have opted to switch on the feature. Otherwise, the social media company maintains that it removes all of the text and call history shared via the core Facebook app if users decide to stop using the feature, which they can switch off at any time. The goal of the logging feature is to help the social networking site’s more than two billion users find and connect with family and friends more easily.
As Facebook points out, although Android needs to grant certain permissions to the Facebook app in the first place, the ability to upload the call and SMS history has always been an optional feature. The Menlo Park, California-based company explains that the call and text history logging practice has never been hidden from users and is, in fact, an option that is provided to them once they sign up for Messenger or Facebook Lite for Android or log into Messenger using their Android devices. Users who wish not to upload their contacts and SMS/call history can choose likewise by selecting the “Not now” option on Messenger or tapping the “Skip” option on Facebook Lite. Otherwise, if these options have been enabled, there is always a way to revoke such permission and revert the action by going to the settings page and making the necessary changes. Additionally, there’s an option to keep contacts information uploaded continuously while disabling the call and text history logging.
Facebook also reiterates that it does not sell this type of information to third-party companies, something the company wants to highlight amid the Cambridge Analytica data privacy issue. The social networking company has been under scrutiny over allegations that the British data analytics and political consulting firm harvested the personal data of 50 million Facebook users and used this information to influence the results of the 2016 U.S. elections. The issue has caused a lot of stir in the tech community and prompted regulators in the United Kingdom and Europe to launch separate investigations.