Social media platforms are purported to access text messages through their apps and even retrieve private information about user’s personal lives. The Android update further permits the apps to acquire pictures from user’s phone camera and even dial the customer’s handsets and interrupt calls without one’s consent. These companies are making use of free smartphone apps as gateways to grant them to pry on user’s text messages and even trace one’s location. By agreeing to the terms and conditions when downloading these apps, we give developers the permit gather a huge amount of data.
One of the Android app causing a buzz lately is the Facebook app. Hidden within the latest update to Facebook’s Android app is a feature that is raising suspicions among many users. In the App permissions menu, the site requests for access to “Read your text messages (SMS and MMS),” and to “Add and modify calendar events and deliver emails to guests without owners” awareness. This app update has been rolling out to consumers for some time now and some users have raised concern about these new permissions citing them as invasive and pointless.
However, corresponding to Facebook’s official app permission site, it only requires access to a person’s text messages only when linking phone numbers to an account. Facebook even clarified that “If you add a phone number to your account, it allows us to confirm your phone number automatically by finding the confirmation code that we send through text message.”
An unidentified Facebook spokesman also claimed that the appeal for permission to retrieve text messages is to allow the app to read and write information between itself and the smartphone’s SMS and MMS feature, rather than for the corporation to spy on consumers. He added: “If Facebook ultimately launches any feature that makes use of these permissions, we will ensure that this is accompanied by appropriate guidance.”
Google seconded the above by adding that, “From the beginning, Android has had an industry-leading permissions system which informs consumers what data an app can access and requires users’ approval before installation.” On the contrary, due to the pressure Facebook is facing as a result of concerns being raised by some users, Facebook now claims that those using its Android mobile app concur to offer them the authorization to read their text messages, though the internet giant also argues that it has not yet taken advantage of this entitlement. Privacy activists also have rebuked the misuse of personal data.
Director of Big Brother Watch, Nick Pickles, termed the apps market as “an unregulated Wild West”. Emma Draper, one of the members of Privacy International Campaign group also added that “Your personal information is a precious commodity, and companies will go to great lengths to get their hands on as much of it as possible.” What we don’t realize is that Facebook Android app has been downloaded to Google Android mobile phones more than 100 million times, nonetheless few of us have thought that we actually give Facebook the permission to access the messages stored on our smartphones or even sim cards.
This app is further able to trace the location of consumers by use of a global positioning software that retrieves the phone numbers and email addresses of those contacts. Notwithstanding the fact that these apps are also being used to access information about the consumer’s internet browsing history.
The information gathered is then sold to market research organizations and advertisement companies at a hefty sum, disclosing the downloaded apps user’s private information to unwelcome advertising and spam messages. The director of app company Sun products, Daniel Rosenfield, revealed that selling the information gathered from consumers devices is much more promising than the amount charged for the app. He added that “The revenue you get from selling your apps doesn’t touch the revenue you get from giving your apps away for free and just loading them with advertisements.”
Further, Chris Brauer, a member of the Center for Creative and Social Technology at Goldsmiths, University of London, alleged that most grown -ups now possess smartphones and these are a great source of amazingly valuable information about a person’s life. And a lot of apps have fallen prey to these companies who are now using them as fronts to gather the data and information from consumers.
Is Facebook accessing your information at your own free will?
Are you still continuing to fill someone’s pocket at the expense of your privacy?