Outrage Follows Revelation that Facebook is Tracking Users’ Texts and Calls

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which it came to light that Facebook had shared the personal information of 50 million users with a Cambridge Psychologist without their explicit consent - before said psychologist seemingly guided the data into the hands of election consultancy Cambridge Analytica - the #DeleteFacebook movement well and truly exploded. Unfortunately for Facebook, this mass-deletion of accounts led to many of these users following the on-screen prompt to download a copy of their info from the platform, and it turns out the social media giant has been logging more details about us than we may have realised.

As it turns out, Facebook are not only tracking website clicks, cookies, and all the other bits of often-trivial data you likely expect, but also the times and duration of calls and text messages between mobile users.

Upon downloading their data from the site users began to notice complete lists of their contacts, addresses, calls and texts were all present on Facebook’s servers, sparking widespread concern and in many cases outrage. Facebook however have downplayed the situation, pointing to their own terms & conditions as well as industry standard practice to explain away accusations of over-zealous data harvesting.

A Facebook spokesperson commented, “The most important part of apps and services that help you make connections is to make it easy to find the people you want to connect with. So, the first time you sign in on your phone to a messaging or social app, it’s a widely used practice to begin by uploading your phone contacts.

“Contact uploading is optional. People are expressly asked if they want to give permission to upload their contacts from their phone – it’s explained right there in the apps when you get started. People can delete previously uploaded information at any time and can find all the information available to them in their account and activity log from our Download Your Information tool.”

Likewise, the company had a similar explanation in regards to the logging of calls and text messages, simply stating, “You may have seen some recent reports that Facebook has been logging people’s call and SMS (text) history without their permission. This is not the case. Call and text history logging is part of an opt-in feature for people using Messenger or Facebook Lite on Android.

“People have to expressly agree to use this feature. If, at any time, they no longer wish to use this feature they can turn it off. We never sell this data, and this feature does not collect the content of your text messages or calls.”

So it does appear that Facebook are not being quite as shady as it first appeared to the flabbergasted users who did not expect the company to have such comprehensive knowledge of their activities, though it does reignite some genuine concerns regarding just how much of our personal information these tech giants now have access to.

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