Facebook wants Android users’ texting data — here’s why

Are you a confused Android user who wants to know why Facebook wants all your texting data? Join the club. 


Joanie Ferguson


Published Jan 28, 2014   Updated May 31, 2021, 8:01 pm CDT

App updates are generally very dull, but we learned two rather interesting things regarding Facebook’s latest mobile update for Android: 1) some people actually read the small print before hitting “agree,” and 2) Facebook is asking for permission to read your text messages.

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If you’re an Android user with the Facebook mobile app, the latest update allows the social network to “add or modify calendar events and send email to guests without owners’ knowledge.”

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But Facebook isn’t totally unaware of how those new permissions put users on edge, admitting they “sound scary.” There’s even a handy explanation on Facebook’s help page for this specific update.

Basically, Facebook says it’s asking for access to your SMS (text) and MMS (photo) messages to create a more thorough authorization process. For example, if you forget your password and request that Facebook send it to you via text message, you also might have to send a text back from your phone to confirm your identity.

As for the email sharing, Facebook says this is to allow you to “see your Facebook events in your phone’s calendar.”

If this access to MMS text messages seems unnecessary, Facebook says to “keep in mind that Android controls the way the permissions are named, and the way they’re named doesn’t necessarily reflect the way the Facebook app uses them.”

Facebook’s help center updates haven’t kept the Reddit community from getting riled up, though. Some redditors are threatening to stop using Facebook if it doesn’t revoke these permissions, and many have deleted the Android mobile app.

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Much of the anger on Reddit is prompted by the belief that Facebook is reading text messages to gather information to better target ads, which would be cause for alarm. But Facebook says this isn’t the case.

And there is a loophole for Android users who don’t want to delete the app but would rather not hand over texting data: you can avoid approving these permissions by not updating the app or downloading Tinfoil for Facebook for a little privacy boost.

H/T Reddit | Ben Harrison/Flickr

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*First Published: Jan 28, 2014, 8:05 pm CST