Something to look forward to: A reduction of text message spam could be on the horizon for Android users as Google implements additional safeguards against unwanted messages. New options to report spam are beginning to appear in the Android Messages app.
Following the launch of the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, Google has gone on the offensive to take care of unwanted phone calls through its call screening feature. Now that calling is less effective for spammers, sending bulk messages has become a popular option.
Through a server-side update, Google has enabled spam protection within its Android Messages app. The "Spam protection" option can be found under Advanced settings where it can be toggled on or off. Note that the rollout is not immediate to all users. Some will have to wait a little longer before the feature appears.
When spam protection is on, phone numbers associated with incoming messages may be shared with Google and checked against spam filters. Your own phone number and the message contents are not shared. If a report for spam is manually submitted to Google, only then will the message contents and your own number be included. A report will include up to 10 of the previous messages sent by a spammer, but will exclude any of your own responses.
For those that are extremely privacy conscious, it may be best to disable the feature until a better explanation of what information is shared. According to Google's help page, phone numbers associated with inbound messages are only temporarily stored along with the time of receipt.
Considering that the majority of Android users back up their data to Google in one way or another, it hardly makes a difference as to whether permission is granted to see phone numbers of incoming messages.