Skip to Content
Silicon Valley

Cell-phone metadata worries are adding to the fallout from Facebook’s data scandal

People are wondering what, exactly, the social network knows about them. As it turns out, the answer includes data about phone calls and messages. The revelation could make Facebook’s huge data scandal hurt more than ever.

The news: Users have been reporting that personal data held by Facebook shows that the social network has collected metadata about phone calls and text messages on Android devices.

Facebook says: That the logs are “part of an opt-in feature,” adding that it will “never sell this data, and this feature does not collect the content” of calls and messages.

Why it matters: Such statements may not assuage user concerns. A Reuters-Ipsos poll says that just 41 percent of Americans surveyed trust Facebook to obey US privacy laws. Consumers may be realizing that their data has value, and that could upset the ad market that underpins Facebook’s business model.

Regulation incoming? Some tech luminaries are joining Facebook’s own senior team in calling for regulation. Apple CEO Tim Cook says that “some large profound change is needed” in the way user data is handled.

Investigation ongoing: Regulations or not, the wheels of officialdom are now in motion. The Federal Trade Commission explained today that it “takes very seriously recent press reports raising substantial concerns about the privacy practices of Facebook,” and confirmed that it “has an open non-public investigation into these practices.”

Keep Reading

Most Popular

This startup wants to copy you into an embryo for organ harvesting

With plans to create realistic synthetic embryos, grown in jars, Renewal Bio is on a journey to the horizon of science and ethics.

VR is as good as psychedelics at helping people reach transcendence

On key metrics, a VR experience elicited a response indistinguishable from subjects who took medium doses of LSD or magic mushrooms.

This nanoparticle could be the key to a universal covid vaccine

Ending the covid pandemic might well require a vaccine that protects against any new strains. Researchers may have found a strategy that will work.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.