Facebook slurped up phone and sms data from Android phones

Facebook has been uploading SMSs and phone logs of Android users, an Ars Technica investigation found this weekend.

When a user’s download of his Facebook data yielded a pretty comprehensive look at his call logs and SMS, eyebrows were raised regarding Facebook’s transparency about its level of access.

Some backstory: Google’s Android 4.0 and below had an API which let apps access your contacts. Phone contacts were used by Facebook to suggest friends on the social network, which is fairly innocuous, what Android users were unaware of was that the permission also granted apps the ability to access call and text logs.

Google changed the APIs functionality with the release of Android 4.1, which turned all this into discrete toggles so an app could get contacts data, gaining access to call and text logs. This change was made in 2012. Apps like Facebook could, however, bypass this API change by targeting lower APIs until Google finally deprecated it in October 2017.

Users who made use of Facebook via its Windows Phone and iOS apps would have had no such issues as neither platform offered up the relevant APIs.

As Facebook struggles to talk its way out of Cambridge Analytica’s data harvesting reveal, this revelation could not have come at a worse time.

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