Facebook Collected Phone Records and Texts from Android Users

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Last week, the U.K. parliamentary committee released internal Facebook documents that showed the popular social media platform used the massive amount of user data it collected as a weapon against competitors – while intentionally keeping its users in the dark. Other documents showed discussions between company executives on how they were keeping the data collection and exploitation secret from its users.

That collection included quietly gathering call records and text messages of users on the Google Android operating system without permission.

The more than 200 pages of records released by the U.K committee mostly cover the years from 2012-2015, and detail internal discussions about the value of the personal information they were collecting. Though publicly the company vowed that it would protect user privacy, it now seems Facebook was using that information to make money.

In a statement, Facebook said the documents are, “only part of the story,” and claim that they are misleading. “We’ve never sold people’s data.”


The U.K. committee obtained the documents from Six4Three, an app developer who sued Facebook, accusing them of anti-competitive business practices. After examining the documents, the committee found that Facebook made exceptions in its rules for companies like Netflix and AirBnB, continuing to give them access to users’ friends lists, even after vowing to end the practice in 2015.

Committee chair Damian Collins issued a statement, saying, “The idea of linking access to friends’ data to the financial value of the developers’ relationship with Facebook is a recurring feature of the documents.”

The report shows that Facebook new the update to its Android phone app allowing it to gather call logs and texts would be controversial among users. As a result, Facebook attempted to make it as difficult as possible for users to find out what it was doing.

The Android data collection came to light during the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Cambridge Analytica is a data mining firm that was employed by the Trump 2016 political campaign and exploited Facebook’s data policies to gather data on millions of Facebook users without their knowledge or consent.

This scandal follows on the heels of others, including the fact that Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg hired Definers Public Affairs to collect opposition research data on billionaire philanthropist George Soros and others they considered to be “enemies” of the company. The request was made after Soros made comments at the World Economic Forum last January, calling Facebook a “menace” and saying that it and other “internet monopolies” had no interest in protecting society.

All of these scandals have Facebook employees understandably nervous. In a report from Buzzfeed News, internal tensions are at an all-time high, inspiring a host of leaks and internal discussions about the future of the platform and its leadership.

While Facebook has been famously tight-lipped up until now, that loyalty seems to be eroding. Some view the scandals as an example of biased attacks from the media, claiming that Facebook is being ganged up on by the press.

Tensions have grown so high, and so deep is the fear of retribution that former employees claim people are now using burner phones to talk about the company – not with reporters, but among themselves.

Jenn Bentley is a writer and editor originally from Cadiz, Kentucky. Her writing has been featured in publications such as The Examiner, The High Tech Society, FansShare, Yahoo News, and others. When she’s not writing or editing, Jenn spends her time raising money for Extra Life and advocating for autism awareness.

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