If the Cambridge Analytica story wasn’t enough, Facebook is again under fire for collecting people’s call logs and SMS history for years.
Per reports, the said data was discovered by many Android users after they obtained the offline copy of their Facebook data. Earlier, it was said that the company did so without asking the users. But according to Facebook’s latest blog post, it’s not true.
In their defense, Facebook said that the continuous logging of call logs and SMS history was “a part of an opt-in feature for people using Messenger or Facebook Lite on Android.” Facebook starts its continuous data scooping after the user agrees to enable the contacts sharing feature in Messenger or Facebook Lite during the sign-in process or later in the apps.
The company says that the data collected can help them improve the experience for the people. But they failed to mention exactly what kind of experience they are talking about.
Facebook claims that they never sell this data and the actual content of the texts or calls isn’t uploaded to their servers. Also, the company argues that it is common for social apps and services to deploy contact importers “as a way to more easily find the people you want to connect with.”
Fortunately, on iOS devices, the data collection isn’t possible because of Apple’s strict privacy policies. It has been possible on Android because the permissions weren’t that strict in the past.
How to disable Facebook’s Call Log And SMS History Collection?
The opt-in data collection feature can be easily turned off in Messenger, as well as, Facebook Lite.
Disable Facebook data collection in Messenger
In your Messenger app, tap your profile picture in the top right corner. Then, tap People. Now, you need to tap Sync Contacts to turn off continuous uploading. If you didn’t enable it in the past, tapping the option allows you to enable it now, if you want to.
Disable Facebook data collection on Facebook Lite
Tap the Menu in the top-right corner. Go to Settings. Here, disable the toggle options that say “Contacts Uploading” and “Call and Text History Uploading.”
Disable continuous contacts upload in the Facebook app
A similar option is present in Facebook’s regular app. Go to Settings > App Settings. There turn off the toggle button that says “Continous Contact Upload.”
How to view and delete your contacts uploaded on Facebook?
Now, there is more you can do. You can delete the contacts Facebook has uploaded from your devices by visiting this page. Alternatively, you can tap “Learn More” after tapping Sync contacts in the Messenger app.
As far as call logs and SMS history is concerned, Facebook claims that the data gets deleted automatically after you disable the continuous upload feature.
Seriously, the number of ways Facebook is using to scrape user data is enough to creep anyone out. Worried users would have been more comfortable if there was one single setting to turn off the data collection. But there is not. And who knows, if they still have many other workarounds running, even if you disable almost every setting visible to your eyes.
What are your views on Facebook and its tracking? Drop them in the comments.