Is this the end of Facebook? Probably not, but things are going to have to change dramatically for the company if they want to keep on keeping on.
As scores of people delete their accounts in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, many are discovering that the social network has been accessing a whole lot of data that they really shouldn’t have touched.
Yes, Facebook was listening all along. Kinda.
The social media platform might make it challenging for users to delete their accounts (instead of delete, they push you towards “deactivation” which leaves all your personal data on the company’s servers), but it does offer you the chance to download all the personal data they have on you.
From complete logs of incoming and outgoing calls, SMS messages and contact lists, the data dump reveals the extent of Facebook’s data harvesting, reports The Guardian.
In fact, it reveals that Facebook has been quietly tracking calls and texts on Android phones for years. Take a look at these tweets:
iPhone users, don’t stress – Apple has never allowed silent access to call data.
However, the truth in the matter is that Android users gave the app access in the first place.
Remember when you downloaded the app, and it asked for access to your phone contacts, which it uses for its “friend-recommendation algorithm”? Well, what it didn’t tell you is that it also wanted access to your call and SMS logs, reports Quartz:
Before Android 4.1 (a.k.a. Jelly Bean), which was released in 2012, when an Android user gave Facebook access to phone contacts, Facebook also got access to actual call and text data by default.
The permissions in the Android API were subsequently changed, but according to Ars Technica, developers could get around the change if they wrote apps to previous versions of the API. In October 2017, Google finally deprecated version 4.0 of the Android API.
Facebook has now announced that the feature was available for Android phone users who downloaded its Facebook Lite and Messenger apps:
“When this feature is enabled, uploading your contacts also allows us to use information like when a call or text was made or received,” it said. “This feature does not collect the content of your calls or text messages. Your information is securely stored and we do not sell this information to third parties.”
Of course, you can turn off the settings in your Messenger app to stop all this – and change your privacy settings, too – but the easiest thing to do is just delete your profile forever and ever. And ever.
After all, why are we using an app whose CEO called his first few thousand users “dumb f*cks” for trusting him with their data.
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