Report: Facebook Knew It Looked Bad To Track Users’ Calls And Texts

Facebook engages in many creepy practices to obtain user data, but one of the creepiest is its “Read Call Log Permission” feature. This allows the site to make friend recommendations based on who Android users have called or texted. And now, according to leaked internal Facebook documents, the site was aware of how bad this made it look — but went ahead with the feature anyway.

According to these documents, which continue to spill out into the public after being obtained by UK lawmakers, Facebook executives expressed concern over the potential reaction to this tracking.

“[It’s a] pretty high-risk thing to do from a PR perspective but it appears that the growth team will charge ahead and do it,” Facebook product manager Mike Lebeau wrote in an email.

Lebeau even laid out a hypothetical scenario in which a screenshot of the opt-in went viral, and the company found itself on the receiving end of negative headlines like “Facebook uses new Android update to pry into your private life in ever more terrifying ways – reading your call logs, tracking you in businesses with beacons, etc.”

What’s most troubling about these stories is not that Facebook is tracking our activity; we already knew that. What’s upsetting is that the company is more concerned with how to hide this fact, without questioning why it needs such invasive tools in the first place.