(Image source: eurodroid)
BY EVAN THOMAS
ANCHOR NATHAN BYRNE
Is Facebook reading your text messages? That’s the claim by an article from the London Sunday Times this weekend. But don’t delete that app just yet — Facebook says it isn’t as bad as it sounds.
TechCrunch boiled the Times’ argument down: mobile apps can access data on your phone — like text messages, contact lists and photos — and some send it to remote servers or to third-party advertisers. But the Sunday Times isn’t reporting anything we don’t already know.
“Suffice it to say that the piece largely repeats the recent stories in the technology media about smartphone app security and problems surrounding address books. The Sunday Times continues its shrill tone to repeat old news, such as how people are revealing their location and their Internet browsing history to third party apps. Shock horror.”
PC Magazine suggests this is a case of over-literal interpretation.
“...it’s no secret that Facebook has access to reading and writing text messages as part of its Android application: That’s a permission that users accept when they go to install the app. But that’s a lot different than Facebook actually using these capabilities in a manner that consumers would likely not enjoy.”
A writer for The Verge agrees. Facebook knows what it’s doing, he says; the Sunday Times, not so much.
“Based on our conversations with Facebook, it seems clear that the company is very aware of the potential privacy issues inherent in any social application on your phone. It’s unfortunate the Sunday Times chose such a sloppy way to address a real problem.”
Still, given the recent trend of app privacy issues, this was going to be checked into. Facebook explained to Business Insider exactly what was going on.
“There is no reading of user text messages. On the Android App store, the Facebook app permissions include SMS read/write. The reason it is on there is because we have done some testing of products that require the SMS part of the phone to talk to the Facebook App.”
‘Testing of products,’ eh? Gizmodo says maybe we should keep our pitchforks handy after all.
“It looks like they’re working on a new feature, so we’ve probably got some time before that rolls out, and then we can freak out when we realize that it’s sold all of our precious love-letters (or love-texts) for drug money.”
Facebook hasn’t explicitly said if anything is in the pipeline. But if something rolls out that integrates with text messaging, Facebook says users will know exactly what it does with their data.