Facebook Decided To Bypass Users' Privacy Because Of User Growth Potential

Harin - Dec 07, 2018


Facebook Decided To Bypass Users' Privacy Because Of User Growth Potential

New documents reveal that Facebook has already known that data collected from users are sensitive but decided to overlook this for user growth potential.

Back in March, many Android users felt shocked after discovering that Facebook’s data download tool revealed that a record of their call as well as SMS history has been collected by the social media platform. Internal emails published by the UK Parliament uncover what happened internally. Through these emails, we learn that although developers already knew that the data was private, they still collected it to expand the reach of Facebook.

Facebook

In order to improve Facebook’s algorithms, the company's growth team was looking into call log data. Moreover, new contacts were also located through the ‘People You May Know’ feature. From a PR viewpoint, this move was viewed as quite risky. However, it was overlooked by the potential of user growth.

Users was supposed to be notified through an in-app pop-up dialog box. However, while looking for ways to make users signed up, developers realized that they can manipulate Android’s data permissions. Through manipulation, users would be automatically signed up if there were new features.

In another series of emails, it seems like developers consider the Android permission screen as unnecessary. After testing revealed that it would be possible for them to collect call logs without asking for users’ permission, this seems to be more preferable.

After the whole incident was revealed in March, the giant tech firm still claimed that they had not collected users’ call logs without asking for their consent and any users that were affected had signed up for the feature. This seems to conflict with many Facebook users’ experience. These users declared that they only installed Messenger with the smallest possibility of permissions and their call logs were still collected. People You May Know feature from Facebook has been the culprit of the whole controversy.

When being asked about this whole incident, Facebook still kept their original statement. A representative from Facebook said that Facebook users can choose whether to give Facebook access permission to their call logs as well as message history. This information will then be used to improve Messenger’s people to call feature and contact lists ranking in Facebook Lite and Messenger.

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