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Facebook Cellphones Communications Handhelds Privacy Social Networks Software

Facebook's "Hello" Tells You Who's Calling Before You Pick Up 78

Mark Wilson writes: When you receive a call you'll usually see the number of the caller, but this may not be helpful in identifying them before you decide whether to pick up. Facebook's answer to this problem is Hello. This new app comes from the Facebook Messenger team and aims to tell you more about the person getting in touch with you even if you don't have their number saved in your address book. Currently available for Android, the dialer app also allows for the blocking of calls from individuals.
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Facebook's "Hello" Tells You Who's Calling Before You Pick Up

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  • Caller ID (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @06:37PM (#49532731)

    Innovative!

    • Re:Caller ID (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Zaelath ( 2588189 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @06:43PM (#49532771)

      Even better than that, it's the same "we'll google the number and put up a name" feature built into recent Android builds anyway.. but with "Facebook" instead of "Google". Given their usual rigour, it will probably work acceptably in 30% of cases in the continental US and be worthless outside of that.

      I guess there's a point to the "1532 have blocked this number" except that ALL the people you want to block come from undisclosed numbers/PABX/skype anyway, so ... meh.

      Plus, it has the added bonus of feeding back the phone number of everyone that ever calls you to Facebook, because you know, they're not far enough up your ass now.

      • Re:Caller ID (Score:5, Informative)

        by Cley Faye ( 1123605 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @07:49PM (#49533153) Homepage
        At least with google it works reasonably well (even outside the US) without having to install another layer of poop in my phone. Was surprised to see my bank name showing up on an incoming call.
        • Re:Caller ID (Score:5, Interesting)

          by unrtst ( 777550 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @10:39PM (#49533963)

          (disclaimer: I'm on slashdot so I didn't read the article or fully research this)

          My initial reaction is that this is actually one of the first and greatest uses of social media and phone integration... assuming they're doing what I think they're doing (though, if so, there's some minor privacy leakage).

          If I'm right, then this *should* work just as well around the world as long as people use facebook about as much in those places. I'm assuming, since this comes from their recently touted FB Messenger team, that:
          * Messenger has your FB account (duh)
          * Messenger permissions snag your personal phone number (MANY apps do this, or at least IMIE/etc)
          * When you get a call, their app checks their DB of phone numbers (a great many of which have been verified via the app), and gets the lookup.
          * If there's no lookup, it can then fallback to other lookups (whitepages, google, other DB's and such)

          I really wish this was around a long time ago. The transition to everyone having unlisted phone numbers (ie. cell phones) destroyed a significant feature of Caller ID. This could bring that back a little. Though it's mostly going to be people I probably know already, this would be great any time you lose your address book somehow, and you can stop adding folks to your address book just so you'll know what number it is (ie. keeping your ex in there under some pseudonym just so you know not to answer when craycray2005 calls).

          As far as privacy... if someone is calling me, screw their privacy. They can tell me who they are, or I'm not answering. BTW, if a creditor calls and says something like "Is this Mr So-and-So?", keep replying with stuff like, "Who can I say is calling?", "Who is this?", "Dunno, who are you calling for?". They love that. And definitely tell them that, "your call may be recorded for, wink-wink, quality control purposes on this end as well".

          Anyway... I don't have a problem with this as long as it's simple phone number -> name lookup.

          • And definitely tell them that, "your call may be recorded for, wink-wink, quality control purposes on this end as well".

            I've used that line a few times with collection agencies, and they *always* say "if you are recording we will terminate the call". Evidently it's OK for them to record, but not for me.

          • by sudon't ( 580652 )

            From TFA: "...Facebook points out that Hello only has access to information which has been made publicly available on the social network..."

            What idiot puts their real name and phone number on Facebook? Surely, no one would do that?

        • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

          there has been caller id apps on some markets(like, fetching from the phone companies directory the name) ever since shortly after 3g was rolled out.

          why 3g was important for this? why not on pre-3g smartphones? on gprs+gsm network your data access got cut when you received a phone call, thus making it impossible to try to query the database just in time and keeping the entire database for a country of 5 million people on a smartphone that had a 16mbyte memcard was not feasible of course.

          and you already had

        • At least with google it works reasonably well (even outside the US) without having to install another layer of poop in my phone. Was surprised to see my bank name showing up on an incoming call.

          I think the two are complementary. Google's reverse lookups often don't find matches for personal numbers, but do a great job with businesses -- it's particularly cool if the business has actually set up their Google page; you get not just the business name, but imagery chosen by the business. For personal numbers, I think Google only finds people who have their number in the Google profile. Given that most people don't bother to configure their Google profile, there are a lot of misses.

          FB, of course, is

      • by jrumney ( 197329 )

        I guess there's a point to the "1532 have blocked this number" except that ALL the people you want to block come from undisclosed numbers/PABX/skype anyway

        I get quite a few calls from known numbers belonging to my credit card company's marketing department trying to sell extra services or increase my credit limit. But Android already had the ability to set the ringtone for a contact to NONE.

      • I don't understand why this information isn't sent/displayed in the first place. My land line shows that, and has for decades. Why doesn't my cell phone?

  • innovating like its 1999

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @06:41PM (#49532755)

    Once again, your identity is being used in ways you didn't approve. Now when you call a business or a non-personal contact -- they'll know all about you.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by NMBob ( 772954 )
      I wonder if it will also blurt out what you were going to say, but decided not to, like their textual messaging system?
    • Yeah, they're using all that data you gave them.

      If you really don't want other to have your information, then don't give it to facebook.

  • Back to the future (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jtara ( 133429 )

    When you receive a call you'll usually see the number of the caller, but this may not be helpful in identifying them before you decide whether to pick up.

    What kind of obsolete phone have you been using?

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by lucm ( 889690 )

      This is for people with phones that have limited features, like a Blackberry or an iPhone.

      • This is for people with phones that have limited features, like a Blackberry or an iPhone.

        Yeah, if only a BlackBerry or an iPhone had access to a massive database of people's private info they'd finally be able to advance to the present!

        • by lucm ( 889690 )

          That's possible. We'd know for sure if at some point either of these products could go back to >15% market share, but let's not hold our breath for that.

      • This is for people with phones that have limited features,

        You str it up well, but overlooked something... the app is only for Android.

        SELF IMMOLATION

    • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @07:05PM (#49532889) Homepage

      Have you been paying attention lately?

      The scammers and spammers have started making the call display look like a number which is similar to the one they're calling. The first six digits the same as your own number.

      I wouldn't trust the call display at all, because it's pretty much fake unless you know exactly who is calling. Because the corporations who started off using these call centers got exemptions to be able to spoof it, caller ID is now almost essentially useless.

      Of course, I'd trust Facefuck to be on my phone about as far as I could throw Zuckerburg, because I know damned well they're a bunch of greedy assholes I don't trust at all.

      • by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @07:35PM (#49533067)

        Because the corporations who started off using these call centers got exemptions to be able to spoof it,

        Corporations who run telemarketing call centers didn't have to get an exemption to spoof calling number id services, they simply used the existing mechanisms available to all users of bulk phone services.

        Corporations who have their own PBXs have always had a need to be able to specify the calling number ID of their outgoing calls. Those who have multiple outgoing lines often want to have a unified, common outgoing caller id sent that points to their main incoming number.

        As for Facebook being able to help out, that's only for people who have told Facebook their phone number. If you're stupid enough to do that, you deserve to have all your data sent to anyone you call. The solution is simple: don't call people you don't want to know who is calling.

        And here's another tidbit: you think you suppress your caller id when you call a business, but if you call their toll-free number they get it anyway. They're paying for the call, they get the data.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Corporations who have their own PBXs have always had a need to be able to specify the calling number ID of their outgoing calls.

          What do you mean "corporations"? I've paid maybe $200 for my SIP phone over the last decade and I get to specify called ID for every single call I make. Sometimes I ended up being directed to US "call center" because I had a US number that I used in my CID.

          This stuff doesn't require anything special. All you need is some know-how.

        • by oobayly ( 1056050 ) on Thursday April 23, 2015 @01:49AM (#49534489)

          Our PBX lets us specify the Caller ID for any extension. However if we attempt to use a number not in our DDI range BT will clip the Caller ID to our main number. Any legitimate telecoms provider should do this to prevent spoofing. The same goes for *some* of the SIP providers I've talked to - they need proof of ownership of the DDI before they will allow you to set the Caller ID, however I imagine it's fairly easy to get around.

        • by houghi ( 78078 )

          Where I work we often need to call people to, ah, remind them they are behind in their payment. We use both call avoidance and show who is calling. Because some people will pick up if they know who is calling and some will pick up if they think it isn't us.

          (That besides those who either never or always pick up)

          The results between using a number and not using one is about 50/50 in the results.

  • by ugen ( 93902 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @06:51PM (#49532817)

    This is yet another reason not to give Facebook your phone number (or any other real/valuable personal information)
    Also, not sure about other people, but for callers who didn't make their name private I see the name on my iPhone (not that it matters).

  • Ship. Sailed. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @06:53PM (#49532831) Journal
    Caller ID itself has taken a sharp face plant, IMHO, what with the ability of telemarketers to disguise their true origins with a local cover number. It's possible the Facebook has maximized its ability to innovate, and this is all that's left to go on about.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      "Innovation" for a service that you do not pay for is called "you are the product", they sell YOU.

    • Which results in, I don't know this number, leave a message.
    • by adolf ( 21054 )

      You youngin's might not realize this, but the ability to set arbitrary caller ID information on outbound calls has been baked-in since day 0.

  • Didn't LinkedIn get in trouble for doing this a while back? They ended up mining everyone's address books and then leaking that data out to anyone and everyone based on received calls? What are the privacy controls on this?

  • You install a Facebook app on your phone, it knows your number and broadcasts it to people who are also using the facebook app. There's a laundry list of apps that do this already.

    This also brings up more reason to have disposable phone numbers.

  • by NotInHere ( 3654617 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @06:56PM (#49532857)

    This is nothing more than facebook wanting phone call data. The advantage for users is almost nonexistent. Its the modern way of stealing (or as they put it in their shiny presentations "harvesting") data.

    • If you have a facebook app on your smartphone they already have access to your call history, I'm guessing.
      • This page doesn't include reading the call history: https://www.facebook.com/help/... [facebook.com]
        However, the call history appears in the play store appearance of the main facebook app. I'm not sure whether this has been newly added, and they have to refresh that page, or they just don't list it in that page.

  • If you're running a CRM at your work and use Asterisk to send a text message or email to a link to that customers information. Works great in the field. Not a new or novel idea.

  • Facebook wants MORE access to peoples devices?

    NOPE.

    I do not fancy myself being a product and having my information bought and sold by unknown entities.

    I also don't see this app working terribly well unless whomevers calling you also has it.

  • ... just forward all the unwanted calls to Lenny [reddit.com]?

    • I don't think that SIP server is still up, and from what I read they guy who configured it (and recorded his dad's voice) has allowed it to be copied. Which is a shame, it was funny as fuck.

  • "Facebook" instead of "Google". its a good idea

  • Because you use Facebook.

  • by goruka ( 1721094 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @09:09PM (#49533567)
    This will be a good excuse to force Google to allow users to revoke certain app permissions. It will eventually happen and this aids to it..
    • Except the Apps can't be installed if you refuse and it's basically too late already since they have already harvested all the phone numbers of people with a facebook app on their smartphone.
    • Why will it eventually happen? Why do you think Android even exists? They want all the data they can get their hands on and have no interest in empowering users to restrict the data they surrender to third parties, because users will then want to restrict the date given to Google.

  • by kuzb ( 724081 ) on Wednesday April 22, 2015 @09:57PM (#49533763)

    But not before storing this metadata along with your present location and any other personal information they can get you to give them access to.

    When will people learn?

  • I have no idea if it does this - but what if the Facebook app allowed you to mark a call as spam after you had taken it, and if more than ten or so people did in a short period of time have it come up with "POTENTIAL SPAM" in the description?

    Lets say the service fully randomizes the callerID for every caller (like the ones that pretend they are your number, even though that's not random). Facebook could still know there is a "wave" of fraudulent calls and alert you that an odd name or number calling right

  • What's the deal? I'd think I was crazy except my parents still have a landline, and when someone calls them the name for that number pops right up. Just like it has for almost 20 years.

    Why is this broken on cellphones, anyway?

    • I'd think I was crazy except my parents still have a landline, and when someone calls them the name for that number pops right up.

      Of course it does.

      Who even answers calls except the ones coming from people they know? What, are you expecting Publisher's Clearing House to call with your sweepstakes winnings? This is what voice mail is for, and I don't even have to listen to the calls because my voice mails are transcribed.

      If a call comes from a local hospital, I'd pick up in case something happened to my w

  • FaceBok Hello? Uh, yea. About that. Firefox just introduced 'Hello' as a voice and video chat solution.

    So, no, FaceBook. No Hello for you.

    Mozilla has your ass dead to rights, and I hope they sue and REFUSE to settle.

  • Only, worse. Since telemarketers probably don't bother creating a FB page. So FB won't notify you of that. TrueCaller gathers information by uploading your contacts list to their servers. And doing the same from millions of people who use. Is this a crazy breach of privacy - sure, it is - but so is everything about Facebook. Telemarketers hate it since once a few of report it as a spam call, it shows up with a warning saying as much when the same person calls someone else. Oh, and you can block that number
  • by redback ( 15527 ) on Thursday April 23, 2015 @03:04AM (#49534729)

    This already exists and its called Caller ID by Google, and its a standard Android feature.

  • This relies on users being stupid enough to give Facebook their phone number (in case the god-awful happens and they forget their password) in the first place.

  • If it doesn't catch on, at least there's always money in the Banana Stand.

  • Before you pick up. Next up - publicly visible "A called B" post on your wall with like and comment buttons.

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