Facebook has been collecting call history and SMS data from Android devices for years; Apple iOS devices unaffected

“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,” Sean Gallagher reports for Ars Technica. “This experience 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.”

“Facebook uses phone-contact data as part of its friend recommendation algorithm. And in recent versions of the Messenger application for Android and Facebook Lite devices, a more explicit request is made to users for access to call logs and SMS logs on Android and Facebook Lite devices,” Warren reports. “But even if users didn’t give that permission to Messenger, they may have given it inadvertently for years through Facebook’s mobile apps—because of the way Android has handled permissions for accessing call logs in the past.”

“If you granted permission to read contacts during Facebook’s installation on Android a few versions ago—specifically before Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)—that permission also granted Facebook access to call and message logs by default,” Warren reports. “You may want to examine the rest of what can be found in the downloadable Facebook archive, as it includes all the advertisers that Facebook has shared your contact information with, among other things.”

Read more in the full article here.

“The same call record and SMS data collection has not yet been discovered on iOS devices,” Tom Warren reports for The Verge. “While Apple does allow some specialist apps to access this data in limited ways like blocking spam calls or texts, these apps have to be specifically enabled through a process that’s similar to enabling third-party keyboards. The majority of iOS apps cannot access call history or SMS messages, and Facebook’s iOS app is not able to capture this data on an iPhone.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Shocking.

Ah, the price of a pretend iPhone that’s “open” in all the wrong ways. — MacDailyNews, August 2, 2011

If you stumbled here from Google with your dog-slow Android POS: Get a real iPhone.

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  1. This is how social network companies make their money. Gathering of data on calls, web browsing etc is big business and enhances the revenue that can be obtained from revenue.

    That’s probably why I will never get an android phone. I don’t trust what information is being collected and how it is being used.

    Apple’s stance on privacy has stood out from their competitors and in that aspect they are definitely looking out for their customers. It costs more but I feel it is worth it.

    1. Most people don’t care what happens to their personal data as long as they get “free services.” Apple has never been praised by Wall Street for protecting user data as they believe Apple’s privacy business model is flawed. Wall Street loves data-mining companies because they can continuously invade consumers’ privacy and plaster them with an endless supply of ads. Data-mining is the ultimate money-making business based on a nearly endless supply of humans desperate for social contact.

  2. Goople, FaceFart all those guys are data mining pigs. I cleared myself of all Google, as far as I know. FB I still use for some business stuff. But I don’t use their messenger and avoid any links that I can find to allow FaceFart to underhandedly data mine me.

  3. The NSA uses the same method as Snowden has shown. Thank you Snowden. What the NSA is legally prohibited to collect on people, it merely buys it from FB or from Australia (which spies on the US) and such which is legal.

  4. that Google is again, inextricably linked to this sort of bottom-feeding? Any company that names a prime product after candy and ice cream has folly in their quiver.
    I’d like to know how deep they go with youtube drag-netting.

  5. I’m willing to bet 99% of Android OS device users don’t care about their personal data being mined. They buy the Android smartphones they can afford and that’s good enough for them. Most people in this world wouldn’t even care if all their personal information is being handed over to intelligence agencies because they have nothing much to hide. Most people’s private lives are quite boring.

    If anyone thinks Apple is suddenly going to benefit from consumers buying more iPhones, they’re sadly mistaken. There will be no big consumer rush to buy iPhones. Most consumers love Google for their free services and Android OS is still going to dominate with 90% global smartphone market share for many years to come. This Facebook data-mining scandal will be forgotten in a month and then it will be back to business as usual.

    It’s very unlikely any of the FANG stocks are going to be regulated because they’re backed by such a high number of wealthy and powerful investors. No analysts are even telling people to dump their Facebook stock because they know the FANG stocks can’t be touched and in the long run, will never lose their value. Apple will still be considered the most doomed company now because of the trade tariff problem and already analysts are telling people to dump Apple stock for that reason.

    I’m sure Facebook will come out of this scandal just fine and will still be valued much higher than Apple. Google is definitely untouchable because it is likely connected with intelligence agencies that are given free access to whatever personal data Google has mined.

    1. You have a good handle on the situation. Those who use Android devices don’t mind and they for the most part have not been told repeatedly that their personal data is secured. On the other hand Apple promotes their personal data security so heavily, it is no wonder that the same kind of data ‘scandal’ hits Apple much harder since people feel ‘betrayed’.

  6. There is a HUGE difference between being asked to allow access to your contact list believing that it will help build your “freinds” list and giving permission to record dates and times of ALL your calls and text messages. For Facebook to imply there is an equivalence is a heinous act of hubris. Individuals should be prosecuted under the 4th amendment.

    1. The 4th Amendment applies only to governmental searches and seizures. Individuals and corporations who search and take your stuff are prosecuted under various laws. In fact, the concept of prosecution is not applicable to the Constitution.

      1. Yes that’s true. What I really meant was prosecution under a law guaranteeing privacy like the 4th amendment gaarantees against unreasonable searches. It’s just easier to say what I said.

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