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Facebook accused of accessing text messages

A report by a leading London newspaper has suggested that social media site Facebook may have gained access to a number of its users' text messages and other information stored on smartphones.

The (London) Sunday Times reported that Facebook was among a number of web companies, including Flickr and YouTube, using apps to access personal data.

Information such as user location, contacts list and browser history were among the various types of material being retrieved by some companies, with the Sunday Times also suggesting that the data sometimes transmitted to third-party companies – including advertisers.

However the social network has hit back at the accusations, telling Business Insider: "There is no reading of user text messages".

"On the Android App store, the Facebook app permissions include SMS read [and] write."

Facebook claims that the London paper has leapt to conclusions, going on to clarify that it is currently in the testing phase of products that utilise the phone's SMS function part to communicate with the Facebook App.

"The Sunday Times 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," the company added.

This is not the first time that the social media giant has had allegations regarding user information made against it by a major publication.

Back in 2010, the Wall Street Journal claimed that users were inadvertently providing access to their names – and in some cases even their friends' names – to advertising and online tracking companies, through some popular Facebook applications.

The European Commission also voiced its concerns in November 2011, calling on the social media site to be more transparent about how they operate, as well as how data is collected and further processed.

Posted by Elise Ferrari