Monday, February 27, 2012

Facebook Denies Allegations of Spying on Users' Text Messages

Android Kicks FacebookFacebook is under fire for “questionable behavior” – yet again.

Over the weekend, an article was featured in the London Sunday Times (registration required) that claimed Facebook was secretly rifling through the text messages of users that have the Facebook app installed on their Android smartphones.

While Facebook admits they’re testing new mobile features that integrate SMS messages, they denied the spy claims about reading users’ text messages without their permission.

Iain Mackenzie, Facebook’s Communications Manager for Europe, posted a note on Facebook titled “Today’s bad journalism” which – aside from bashing the newspaper for printing the article – stated that even though the current version of the Facebook app in the Android market requests permissions to EDIT, RECEIVE AND READ SMS Messages, it’s only in use for a small base of test users.

As one of the commenters of Iain’s Facebook post asked: Why does the Android market version of the Facebook app require SMS permissions if it's not actively used by everyone?

That brought another problem to light because according to a survey that was conducted by the Times, an alarming 70% of the respondents confessed that they do not check the permissions required by an app before installing it!

If you happen to be someone that doesn’t check permissions before installing an app on your smartphone, I strongly recommend that you start doing so immediately. It’s a great way to minimize your chances of getting malware on your phone.

As far as the “poor journalism” side of things, considering Facebook’s track record, it’s not all that surprising that the author behind the Times article spun the social networking giant in such a negative light.

After all, it was just a few months ago that Facebook had to update their cookies to stop tracking users even after they logged out of their accounts. That was after a security researcher spent nearly a year trying to bring it to their attention.

Then there’s that time when the FTC said Facebook was engaging in “unfair and deceptive practices,” but who are we to judge?

The Facebook app was removed from my Galaxy Nexus a long time ago for a completely different reason – it always seemed to have issues loading my News feed.  I just use the mobile site when I’m on the go and I feel the need for a social media fix.

Do you have the Facebook app installed on your smartphone? If so, will you be keeping it installed? What are your thoughts on all of this?

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Image Credit: Quinn.anya || Modified by Marquisa Kirkland

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