On Mar. 25, Facebook acknowledged that as part of their data collection process for Android users, those who downloaded Messenger on their phones and opted-in to letting the app access their contacts list were also opting-in to letting Facebook collect things like their call and text logs. The company said in a statement on their newsroom: "Call and text history logging is part of an opt-in feature for people using Messenger or Facebook Lite on Android. This helps you find and stay connected with the people you care about, and provides you with a better experience across Facebook. People have to expressly agree to use this feature." For those Facebook and Messenger users who are considering disabling the feature on their Android phones, here's how to stop Facebook from collecting your phone data, including call and text log history.
In addition to admitting that they do indeed collect Android call and SMS history from people who use Facebook Messenger or Facebook Lite on their Android phones, Facebook included a detailed guide to opting-out of the feature for those users wishing to turn it off on their app. Disabling the feature, the statement said, would promptly delete all call and text log history from Facebook. "We introduced this feature for Android users a couple of years ago. Contact importers are fairly common among social apps and services as a way to more easily find the people you want to connect with," the statement from Facebook said. "This was first introduced in Messenger in 2015, and later offered as an option in Facebook Lite, a lightweight version of Facebook for Android."
Additionally its statement, Facebook noted that the data was never sold to third parties, and that things like the actual contents of calls or text messages that were logged in their system was never collected: "When this feature is enabled, uploading your contacts also allows us to use information like when a call or text was made or received. This feature does not collect the content of your calls or text messages. Your information is securely stored and we do not sell this information to third parties. You are always in control of the information you share with Facebook."
According to Facebook, when you sign up for Messenger of Facebook Lite from your Android device, you will receive a notification asking if you want to upload your contacts, as well as your call and text history. "For Messenger, you can either turn it on, choose ‘learn more’ or ‘not now’. On Facebook Lite, the options are to turn it on or ‘skip,'" the statement from Facebook explained. "If you chose to turn this feature on, we will begin to continuously log this information, which can be downloaded at any time using the Download Your Information tool."
So, if you want to see whether or not your phone history and data is being collected, you can easily check and then disable the feature, which Facebook explicitly stated will promptly stop data collection and delete existing data from their servers. For those using the regular app, you can head here turn it off in settings, or here if you use Facebook Lite.
Furthermore, if you want to keep your app opted-in to sharing your contacts, but not your call and text logs, Facebook added that you can turn off the continuous-call-and-text-history-logging feature on its own, while keeping the contact feature on. If you want to see which contacts you may have uploaded to Messenger, you can go to the Uploading and Managing Your Contacts page and delete any information you don't want Facebook to have.