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United States Facebook accused of harvesting Android users' data

FACEBOOK faced new questions today about collecting phone numbers and text messages from Android devices.

The revelations are embarrassing following the US-based internet giant’s apologies in US and British newspapers for exposing users’ data to Cambridge Analytica, a consultancy firm which worked with the Donald Trump campaign in the US and the Leave campaign in Britain’s 2016 referendum on EU membership.

The website Ars Technica reports that Android users who checked data gathered by Facebook on them found that it had years of contact names, numbers, call lengths and text recipients.

Facebook said on Sunday that the information is uploaded to secure servers and comes only from Android users who opt to allow it. A spokeswoman said the data is not sold or shared with users’ friends or outside apps.

The company also said it does not collect the content of text messages or calls.

Messages were left on Sunday seeking comment about security from Google officials, who make the Android operating system.

Reports of the data collection came as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took out ads in multiple US and British Sunday newspapers to apologise for the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The ads say the social media platform doesn’t deserve to hold personal information if it can’t protect it.

According to the ads, a quiz app built by a Cambridge University researcher leaked Facebook data of millions of people four years ago.

Cambridge Analytica got the data from a researcher who paid 270,000 Facebook users to complete a psychological profile quiz in 2014. But the quiz gathered information on their friends as well, bringing the total number of people affected to about 50 million.

The Trump campaign paid the firm $6 million (£4.2m) during the 2016 election but has since distanced itself from the company.

Vote Leave is accused of channelling money through another campaign to a firm linked to Cambridge Analytica in a potential breach of electoral law.

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