The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) confirmed today it opened an investigation into the social media giant’s use of user data. The investigation is open and “non-public.” Facebook has been tracking all inbound and outbound phone calls and texts from Android Facebook app users who agreed to share their contacts with Facebook. The FTC is questioning whether the privacy practices violated a 2011 settlement with the FTC over another privacy violation involving Cambridge Analytica.
According to a post from Facebook, call and text history logging is part of an opt-in feature for people using Messenger or Facebook Lite on Android. Messenger and Messenger Lite users actually upload their contacts to Facebook servers to use the apps. Messenger and Messenger Lite users can opt out of uploading their contacts, but then they won’t be able to access their contacts to message other users or allow others to find them on the apps.
It is likely that the average user was not aware that their call and text history was being logged. However, Facebook does not tell users what that information is used for. Facebook users are used to privacy encroachment from app features such as tagging friends in images and the facial recognition feature. Many users notice that Facebook had the tendency to show an advertisement that is relevant to something users spoke of while in the presence of their mobile device that runs the app – making them wonder if the app is listening to conversations even while the users are off app.
In a statement, Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg, acknowledged that although the Android mobile app is storing data about all phone call and texts, including the contacts involved, what time, and duration, it did not actually record the content of the conversations
Just last week it was revealed that Facebook allowed an integration app from Cambridge Analytica to mine the data of 50 million Facebook users.
Facebook said in a statement on Monday that the company remains “strongly committed” to protecting people’s information and that it welcomes the opportunity to answer the FTC’s questions.
How to Stop Facebook from Tracking Your Phone (and you!)
- Go to your mobile device
- Log out of the Facebook app
- Delete the app from your Smartphone
- Go to your mobile browser
- Ensure that you are logged out of Facebook mobile
- Delete any Facebook cookies from your webs browser
Optionally Facebook users can deactivate their accounts, which is reversible. To completely remove your data, delete your Facebook account completely, This is not reversible.
Michelle writes about cyber security as well as how to protect your data online. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers