According to a Reddit user who posted a screenshot from his Android phone Monday of Facebook’s latest app update, the popular social media platform is now reading users’ text messages.
Reddit user Tony.Calileo.com noticed the change in the “App permissions” after downloading Facebook’s latest mobile update. The Redditor snapped a screenshot from his Android device, highlighting the line saying “New: Read your text messages (SMS or MMS),” which gives Facebook the ability to read both text and picture messages.
The update began its gradual rollout to mobile devices at the end of last year, and has since been accompanied by complaints from users that the update is unnecessarily invasive.
Facebook claims the feature is used to help sync users’ phone numbers to their Facebook accounts, allowing the app to automatically scan your message inbox for the confirmation code Facebook sends in a text for verification.
“We realize some of these permissions sound scary, so we’d like to provide more info about how we use them,” Facebook wrote on its official app permissions page.
“It’s already too much that the app was already apparently collecting people’s phone numbers without their permission. I’m sorry, but no, Facebook, you don’t get to read my texts,” another user complained on Facebook’s support page.
If you’ve updated to the latest version of the app, Facebook also has access to call logs, contacts, messages, and the ability to see other apps downloaded to your phone.
One of Facebook’s engineers said the Android platform does not currently allow for the app to just look for a specific message or type of message, which is why Facebook needs access to the entire message inbox.
Users are not able to pick and choose what permissions they allow and don’t – they must either discontinue using the app, refuse the update for as long as possible (which may affect its usability and functionality in the future), or accept Facebook’s access stipulations.
To check the current permissions on an Android device, open Settings, Application Manager, and then Facebook.
“Facebook gathers this information from pretty much everything you feed them – that’s nothing new,” Tony.Calileo.com wrote. “But now they’re able to read your text messages. At this point, it’s either stick with the old version, get rid of Facebook on Android, or accept that they’ve got access to every one of your text messages, call log, your personal contact card, the names of whatever other apps you’re using…”