Facebook attacks SMS-poaching claims

News org claimed that a new Android app showed intent to catalog SMS information, Facebook denies

Technology trends and news by Krystal Peak
February 27, 2012
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A Facebook official is speaking out against some claims that its latest Android update is reading and sending text messages for the smartphone users. 

Just a few days ago, The Sunday Times ran an article claiming the intent of Facebook to collect, read and send texts for those using the new Facebook update on an Android and one Facebook official has publicly denied the essence of this claim.

Iain Mackenzie, the Pan-European Communications Manager for Facebook, based in London wrote on his blog that the article is sensational and that "the suggestion that we're secretly reading people texts is ridiculous. Instead, the permission is clearly disclosed on the app page in the Android marketplace and is in anticipation of new features that enable users to integrate Facebook features with their reading and sending of texts."

The Android Permission Statement reads:

Currently the new permission asked from the Facebook app does cover the ability to read, send and edit text messages in a user's phone but it seems to be more of a wide-focus permission coverage since the application doesn't actually do any of those features. Mackenzie also pointed out that some new features are being tested in a limited population segment and if any of those changes become adopted by Facebook, the company will follow-up by informing the public with any impact it will have on their sharing or security.

While The Sunday Time may have jumped to the side of sensationalizing an issue that isn't, it may help Facebook users continue to accept application updates with caution since we are so quickly programed to accept all of the changes without question or scrutiny. 

The new Android product, currently under testing, asks permission to access SMS information but Mackenzie explains that such information can connection to other features such as carrier billing extensions -- do we sense a new way to buy those Facebook credits? Perhaps.

Permissions issues have been sending up reflags as consumers and techies have looked a lot closer at just what information we are offering on a silver plater each time we download and use and application. 

While it is understandable why companies like to write larger spanning permission perimeters than they would need, some of these cart blanche statements scare users -- such as a YouTube app that stated it could remotely access or operating users' smartphone cameras to take photographs or videos at any time. 

It may be another harmless way to allow Google to not have to update its permission statement every few weeks, but it seems terrifying. Hopefully, app creators can take these reactions to heart and explain their intent and their actual uses to put consumers at ease -- they already are on devices that we have with us more than our wallets.


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