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What You Need to Know Before You Install Facebook’s Messenger App

This post originally appeared on Mizz Information.
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This morning when I logged onto Facebook (yes, still trying to break the habit), several friends were talking about Facebook forcing users to install Facebook messenger. Then I noticed the message from Facebook that soon they’ll be deleting access to Facebook messages from the mobile app, as all mobile messages will be going through their Messenger app. Why? This is the sole reason they give in their FAQs about the change:

Why is this changing?

Messenger is much faster. You’ll get new messages instantly and can reply right away. In fact, we’ve found that people reply about 20% faster on Messenger than on Facebook. So as your friends start using Messenger, you’ll probably notice them getting back to you sooner.

Oh, Facebook…you amuse me so. Facebook is like a little kid lying about the dog eating her homework, so ridiculous are the reasons behind each of their changes. In every case, they spin it as being about the users’ experience when it’s blatantly obvious that they don’t give a shit about what users want; they do what’s good for Facebook. As is, of course, their right.

But seriously–this excuse is by far the lamest they’ve come up with so far. I guess they figure enough time has passed since it was revealed that the Messenger Android app’s permissions include the following:

  • Allows the app to change the state of network connectivity
  • Allows the app to call phone numbers without your intervention. This may result in unexpected charges or calls.
  • Allows the app to send SMS messages. This may result in unexpected charges.
  • Allows the app to record audio with microphone. This permission allows the app to record audio at any time without your confirmation.
  • Allows the app to take pictures and videos with the camera. This permission allows the app to use the camera at any time without your confirmation.
  • Allows the app to read you phone’s call log, including data about incoming and outgoing calls. This permission allows apps to save your call log data, and malicious apps may share call log data without your knowledge.
  • Allows the app to read data about your contacts stored on your phone, including the frequency with which you’ve called, emailed, or communicated in other ways with specific individuals.
  • Allows the app to read personal profile information stored on your device, such as your name and contact information. This means the app can identify you and may send your profile information to others.
  • Allows the app to access the phone features of the device. This permission allows the app to determine the phone number and device IDs, whether a call is active, and the remote number connected by a call.
  • Allows the app to get a list of accounts known by the phone. This may include any accounts created by applications you have installed.

Hell if I can find the iPhone Messenger app permissions without downloading it to my phone, which there’s no way in hell I’m doing. But remember the iPhone Messenger app “accidentally” imported everyone’s contacts from their iPhones?  So before you download Messenger so you can get your Facebook messages FASTER!, think twice about whether you’re ok with Facebook being able to place calls and send texts on your behalf, import all the information on your phone into Facebook, take pictures and video from your phone without your knowledge and who knows what else. Is it really worth it, all so your friends’ messages can reach you FASTER? Sure isn’t worth it to me. Anyone who needs to reach me fast has my phone number and can send me a text.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Stuart Chittenden August 13, 2014 at 9:24 AM

Thanks Maddie. I use Facebook, though reluctantly and without pleasure on the whole. In that context, I tend not to keep up with their pernicious (anti-)privacy shenanigans, so I appreciated this note of caution…

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