How to Ensure Facebook Isn't Pulling your Call Data

Tuesday, April 17, 2018/Categories: Tech Tips & Gadgets

In recent reports published through an investigation led by ARS, it was found that Facebook has been gathering call and text histories from its users. In other words, Facebook was able to collect records of who its users were contacting and when they were doing it. Reports specifically assert that Facebook gathers phone and message metadata from Android phones.

Though some reports cite that Facebook's actions were restricted to Android phones, Apple users should know that though app permissions typically offer more privacy protection, they should also take measures to protect their call data.

Facebook publicly admitted that they upload call and text logs from personal cellular devices which ran on Google's Android system. Through their public admission, Facebook proclaimed this access was limited to users who gave appropriate permission.

However, ARS reported that Facebook kept users' logs, and questioned Facebook's integrity regarding their handling of user’s personal data. Facebook claims that they did not collect the contents of messages or calls, and stated that they did not sell user data, and the permission to obtain it was granted through a user-based "opt-in" feature.

Regardless of statements made by Facebook, it is in the best interest of Facebook users to protect personal call data by removing permissions that may compromise security. Facebook users can opt-out of data collection and delete stored logs by changing app settings.

If you are a Facebook user, you should ensure that Facebook isn’t pulling your call data by following these simple steps.

Update Android Settings

You can update the settings on your mobile device to prevent Facebook from accessing your call information. Here’s how:

On your Android device, open your Settings.

Click Apps

Click Facebook

Click Permissions

If the permissions for phone and/or SMS are enabled, disable the permissions accordingly.

After you turn those permissions off, Facebook cannot access the metadata of your phone calls and messages.

Verify iPhone Settings

As of now, this threat has been limited to Android users. However, as an extra layer of protection, Apple users can confirm that app permissions are set accordingly to protect their call data. One option is to check your privacy settings by preforming the following steps:

Click Settings

Click Privacy

The Privacy section lists various iPhone features that can be accessed by third-party apps. For example, by clicking Contacts, you will see any app that has the ability to access your contacts. You can review any specific iPhone feature and disable/enable permissions for third-party apps to access your personal data.

Another iPhone setting that you can verify is what you have set for Facebook to access, which is located on:

Click Settings

Click Facebook (scroll down until you see your installed apps appear in alphabetical order).

After you click Facebook, you can see what you have given permission for Facebook to access. For example, you can enable/disable Facebook’s ability to access your microphone. Through verifying these iPhone settings, you can make any changes which you deem necessary.

Block Facebook Messenger Calls

If you want to take your Facebook privacy a step further, you should consider completely blocking Facebook Messenger calls. By blocking these calls, you disable all messenger calls and video on your phone. To get started, log on to your Facebook account on any computer browser and perform the following steps:

Click on the Chat setting.

Click the cog icon (gray icon that looks like a gear).

After the drop-down dialog appears, click Turn Off Video/Voice Calls.

After you click Turn Off Video/Voice Calls, you can choose the duration for which to turn it off as follows:

• For 1 hour

• Until 8 a.m.

• Until I turn it back on

With the intent of protecting your privacy, you should select the “Until I turn it back on” option.

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