In a survey of 1,300 Android users, 89% percent said that they did not give Facebook consent to scrape their call and text history. Facebook has been allegedly scraping phone records since 2015.
Last month, we surveyed our users, asking them if they planned to delete their Facebook accounts after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. In just a few days, more than 2,600 users answered our survey, with 31 percent answering that they will delete their Facebook account.
Shortly after news of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, many Facebook users rushed to download their profile data, leading Android users to discover that the company had been collecting their call history records and SMS data. As Sean Gallagher of Ars Technica writes:
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.
We surveyed over 1,300 Android users, asking if they granted Facebook permission to collect their call and text history. Overall, 89% answered 'No.'
Last week, Facebook announced that the company will reduce the amount of data collected from Android users. In a company blog post, Facebook CTO, Mike Schroepfer writes:
Call and text history is part of an opt-in feature for people using Messenger or Facebook Lite on Android. This means we can surface the people you most frequently connect with at the top of your contact list. We've reviewed this feature to confirm that Facebook does not collect the content of messages — and will delete all logs older than one year. In the future, the client will only upload to our servers the information needed to offer this feature — not broader data such as the time of calls.
Portrait used in collage: Guillaume Paumier, CC-BY.