The Tech Herald

Facebook denies reading personal text messages

by Steven Mostyn - Feb 27 2012, 18:51

Judge orders social networking site to cough up private user info in harassment lawsuit. Image: Facebook.

Facebook is back in the privacy crosshairs this week after a report in The Sunday Times suggested the social media titan’s official Android software app is capable of accessing and reading personal text messages crafted by phone users.

However, Zuckerberg & Co. have offered up an official statement in which they claim the report  “is completely wrong when it says Facebook is reading people’s SMS. Wrong on the terminology, and wrong on the suggestion that it has been implemented.”

With regard to the inclusion of an app permission covering SMS read/write functionality, Facebook has been quick to point out that its existence does not involve the actual reading or creation of user texts.

“The reason it is on there is because we have done some testing (not with the general public) of products that require the SMS part of the phone to talk to the Facebook App,” it outlined.

“That’s what the read&write refers to—the line of communication needed to integrate the two things,” it added. “Lots of communication apps use these permissions. Think of all those apps that act as replacements to the built-in SMS software.”

Although, technically speaking, the app is capable of integrating with the host phone’s SMS system, Facebook insists is has the right to insert the permission “even if just for our own testing.”

The network is also pointing concerned users to the Android Market’s ‘Permissions’ page, which includes a list of everything the Facebook application is authorized to do once a user agrees to download and install it onto their handset.

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