In 2015, Facebook was preparing to launch a new partnership with Android that would grant Facebook access to phone call and SMS text logs. The logs were intended to improve things like news feed ranking and friend suggestions, the internal emails show, and would included in an update that required users to accept the changes.
Still, the revelation shocked users earlier this year, when the logs were reported.
Facebook executives anticipated the backlash, though, the emails show.
"This is a pretty high-risk thing to do from a PR perspective but it appears that the growth team will charge ahead and do it," Product Manager Michael LeBeau said at the time. He predicted a "fallout" in which a "screenshot of the scary Android permissions screen becomes a meme (as it has in the past), propagates around the web, it gets press attention, and enterprising journalists dig into what exactly the new update is requesting, then write stories about 'Facebook uses new Android update to pry into your private life in ever more terrifying ways — reading your call logs, tracking you in businesses with beacons, etc.'"
The update went ahead, and Facebook collected call and text records for several years. After the public backlash earlier this year, Facebook announced it would delete any records older than one year.
The company said Wednesday:
This specific feature allows people to opt in to giving Facebook access to their call and text messaging logs in Facebook Lite and Messenger on Android devices. We use this information to do things like make better suggestions for people to call in Messenger and rank contact lists in Messenger and Facebook Lite. After a thorough review in 2018, it became clear that the information is not as useful after about a year. For example, as we use this information to list contacts that are most useful to you, old call history is less useful. You are unlikely to need to call someone who you last called over a year ago compared to a contact you called just last week.