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Facebook reading your SMS?

How many of us really read the terms and conditions of services when we install a mobile application on a smartphone? They are usually long, tiresome and boring, but sometimes show (oh, surprise) that those applications access more information than they actually require. It is well known that our personal preferences form a very lucrative business that helps companies, for example, to segment users and provide more targeted and focused advertising platforms.  What kind of companies would benefit from this knowledge? Social networks, for example? Yes… And Facebook, the biggest one, above all. Last week a report published by Sunday Times explained that Facebook’s mobile application in Android devices might be accessing the SMS stored on our smartphones.

Facebook subsequently admitted its future access to the message store of smartphone users who install this app in order to prepare the launch of a new messaging system. And then issued a statement [1] reminding, first, that the application asks clearly for permission to access the message store, and, secondly, that the application is not using this possibility yet (although new features will arrive that will require this access). This is certainly a worrying practice and can provoke widespread reaction, but it is equally true that some existing applications already have access to these private data (Flickr or Yahoo Messenger, to mention only two).

The story serves just as another example to wonder about the advantages and risks posed by the online revolution. It would seem wise to include in our digital habits reading the terms and conditions of the software we install in our phones (polls show that only 1 of 3 people do it). Is it really worth to give another company access to our message store only to enjoy these features? What is the meaning of privacy in the XXIst century? Where do you draw the line?

(Comments, as always, are well received)