If you have the Facebook App downloaded on your smart phone it’s highly possible (probable, in fact) that Facebook is “reading” your text messages.
In recent updates for the Facebook app, buried deep within the permissions menu, the App now asks for access to “Read” your text and picture messages (SMS and MMS).
“According to Facebook’s official app permission page, an example of when Facebook requires access to text messages is when connecting phone numbers to an account.”
“If you add a phone number to your account,” explains Facebook, “This allows us to confirm your phone number automatically by finding the confirmation code that we send via text message.”
Facebook has published a chart of permissions and what they are used for (on Android phones) but notes: “Keep in mind that this list doesn’t include all of the Android permissions we request or all of our uses of those permissions.”
I have been unable to locate information on Facebook regarding App permissions on the iPhone, but was told by tech support at Apple that “we are suspicious that the App is reading texts. If you cannot modify the permissions within the App, and you don’t want FB reading your texts, delete the App.”
I pored through the “Settings” tab on both my iPhone 5s and my son’s iPhone 4 and could only find reference to the data that Facebook collects about you (basically, Facebook collects everything they can about you…from you, from your friends, from the other apps and services you use, etc. and this includes your phone number. (See “Read your text messages (SMS or MMS)” in the chart above.
Here’s why I became interested in the question: Is Facebook Reading My Text Messages?:
Two days ago, I searched “Vintage Ray-Bans” on eBay. I mentioned it to a friend of mine in Skype the next day. And the day following that, I had an email in my inbox inviting me to “like” the page “Cheap Ray-Bans” on Facebook.
Savvy marketing, I thought. Probably a bit of retargeting on eBay by an enterprising marketer on Facebook.
Yesterday, I had an appointment in town and my son had to be at the dentist at the same time.
I dropped my son at the dentist’s office and went to my appointment. My son finished first and texted me – iPhone to iPhone – that he was done and that the dentist said he had a canker sore.
That was the ONLY reference to canker sore that either one of us made.
This morning, I had an email in my inbox inviting me to “like” the page “Canker Sores: Treatments, Preventions, and Cures” on Facebook.
Obviously not a coincidence.
Thinking the security on my MacBook Pro had been breached, I called Apple Care and that’s when I was made aware of the Facebook Permissions and the suspicion that Facebook is reading text messages.
Makes sense, in retrospect. Facebook is likely “reading” text messages for keywords (Ray-Bans, canker sores, etc.) and selling that data to marketers within Facebook.
It is undoubtedly a money-maker for Facebook or they wouldn’t be doing it.
But I am unwilling to have my privacy invaded in this way. I deleted the Facebook App
from my iPhone. My son did the same.
Interestingly, a quick search on the Internet revealed a couple of recent articles: Is Facebook reading your TEXTS? and “Why is Facebook’s App Asking To Read Your Text Messages?”
I borrowed from each of these articles in writing this post. Here’s what I found fascinating:
When I tried to post the second of these articles to my Facebook timeline, I received the following message:
I don’t know about you, but this is way too “Big Brother” for me!