Facebook denies its application spies on text messages

The company is running a limited test of features that would access text messages, but not for most users now

Facebook on Monday denied a news report accusing the company of reading text messages on Android devices, but said it is running a "limited" test of new features that may require the company to make use of permissions it already asks from users to access their texts.

The Sunday Times in London published a report saying that Facebook and other companies including Yahoo and Google have access to a wide range of personal data on mobile devices, with some spying on text messages.

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Facebook said its application for Android operating systems does not read or write text messages for most users. However, the company is "currently running a limited test of mobile features which integrate with SMS functionality," according to a statement.

Users should already be aware that Facebook has advised it may access their text messages. The company lists detailed information under the "Permissions" tab in the Android Market about what its application is authorized to do if users download it.

The Android mobile application for Facebook is authorized to receive, process and write text messages as well as read those communications, it reads.

The company said it declared to users that its Android application is capable of reading and writing text message starting with the 1.7 version of the application.

"If Facebook ultimately launches any feature that makes use of these permissions, we will ensure that this is accompanied by appropriate guidance/educational materials," the company said.

Yahoo and Google officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com.

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