As the Cambridge Analytica scandal gave birth to the #DeleteFacebook movement, some users who chose to get rid of their accounts and downloaded all their Facebook data first found that Facebook had complete logs of all their cellular calls and SMS text messages. This understandably led to a freakout in the press and on social media: Is Facebook just a synonym for Big Brother? But now Facebook has published a blog post “fact-checking” the revelation, confirming that for some users Facebook was logging their calls and texts, but those users opted in to letting Facebook do that:
“Call and text history logging is part of an opt-in feature for people using Messenger or Facebook Lite on Android. This helps you find and stay connected with the people you care about, and provides you with a better experience across Facebook. People have to expressly agree to use this feature . . . We introduced this feature for Android users a couple of years ago. Contact importers are fairly common among social apps and services as a way to more easily find the people you want to connect with.”
For what it’s worth, Facebook is right. Users on Android did need to opt in to the feature. The problem is many people probably didn’t understand what they were opting into when prompted by the Android app to do so–so perhaps Facebook could have avoided this outrage if their app was clearer about what data opting in would allow it to collect. And for the record, iPhone users needn’t worry about this. Apple doesn’t allow apps to pull your phone and text records.