UPDATED 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 23 with more information. This story was originally published at 4:34 p.m. Friday. Facebook’s Android app can log calls and text messages, several Facebook users, including one staffer at Tom’s Guide, have discovered.
In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, many Facebook users have been downloading their Facebook posts. And some of them are finding call and text-message logs from 2015 through 2017, although not the actual content of the calls or texts.
It’s not clear why no calls or text from 2018. or before 2015, show up on the list. It’s also not clear why only some people seem to have their calls and texts logged. We’ve asked Facebook about this and will update this story when we receive a response.
The issue was brought to light by Dylan McKay, a New Zealand software developer who tweeted Wednesday (March 21) that he’d downloaded his Facebook posts.
MORE: How to Stop Facebook From Sharing Your Data
“Somehow it has my entire call history with my partner’s mum,” McKay wrote, “a historical record of every single contact on my phone, including ones I no longer have, metadata about every text message I’ve ever received or sent and the metadata of every cellular call I’ve ever made, including time and duration.”
McKay pointed out that he didn’t use Facebook Messenger to handle his text messages.
Sean Gallagher, the IT and national security editor at Ars Technica, replicated it himself this afternoon (March 23), finding calls made when he was using a presumably super-secure Silent Circle Blackphone as his main phone.
Among three Tom’s Guide staffers with the Facebook app installed on their phones, only one had call and text logs in her Facebook download. However, all three users got lists of all their contacts from their Android phones. So did users of the iOS Facebook app who’d downloaded their Facebook files.
So far, we can’t tell whether the call and text logging is enabled by default.
The technology-news website Boy Genius Report said that users had to opt into a feature called Sync Your Call and Text History in the App Settings section of the Android Facebook App. But we found no such option in two instances of the Facebook app, one freshly installed on a phone running Android 8.0 Oreo and another long installed on a phone running Android 7.1.1 Nougat.
If you are able to find the Sync Your Call and Text History setting on your Android Facebook app, we suggest you make sure it’s turned off.
UPDATE: It appears that the logging feature now exists only in the Facebook Lite and Facebook Messenger apps. We’ve asked Facebook if it ever existed in the regular Facebook Android app and will update this story again when we receive a reply.