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The social networking website Facebook has denied a report in the Sunday Times newspaper claiming it was accessing the text messages of users who downloaded its mobile app.
"The permission is clearly disclosed on the app page in the Android marketplace and is in anticipation of new features that enable users to integrate Facebook features with their texts" a Facebook spokesman is quoted as saying. "However, other than some very limited testing, we haven't launched anything yet so we're not using the permission."
On Monday the Washington Post reported that Facebook had responded to the report and sought to point out that the permission to access text messages is clearly listed in the app’s terms and conditions.
It quotes from Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes' statement, which described reports that text messages were being read as 'ridiculous', and accused the Sunday Times of "creative conspiracy theorizing".
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"The permission is clearly disclosed on the app page in the Android marketplace and is in anticipation of new features that enable users to integrate Facebook features with their texts," he said, according to the Washington Post "However, other than some very limited testing, we haven’t launched anything so we’re not using the permission. If we do, it will be obvious to users what’s happening.”
The ZD Net website points to a Facebook note entitled "Today's bad journalism: The Sunday Times", in which another of the website's spokespeople, Iain MacKenzie, republished the information he claimed to have originally supplied to the newspaper.
"Basically, if you are going to potentially make use of any features on an android app - you damn well better declare them to the users - which Facebook did," Mackenzie concludes. "The features aren't used outside testing (as we explained) with people who know exactly what we are testing."
He adds: "Just as an aside... we didn't say we're launching a messenger product."
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