Concerned about Facebook Messenger App?

Last week saw concerns being raised about Facebook’s messaging app and the really quite invasive permissions under the Terms of Use. Among the permissions are allowing the app to “call phone numbers without your intervention” and “use the camera at any time without your permission”, which has understandably created fears over the impact on the phone owner’s privacy.

However it’s not as sinister as it’s been made out to be and there are a number of factors at work that have combined to create quite an internet storm for poor old Facebook.FB-Logo---White

So what’s going on?

This all started because Facebook wants to stop people using the instant chat feature inside Facebook on their phone to privately send and receive messages. They want to move users directly onto the standalone Messenger app. To do this, users must download the app and agree to the permissions in the Terms of Service.

It is because Facebook are now forcing its users to download the standalone app, that suddenly users have become aware of the extent of the permissions. The terms of Messenger app are not new. In fact if you’re using the app, you have already agreed to these permissions. The report that first outlined the permissions was actually published in 2013! And they are not the only ones who seek such detailed permissions either. If you’re worried, perhaps some security on your mobile is the way to go, it means you can worry less about some of the stuff that Facebook is doing. Personally I use Avast to secure my phone because I use it on my PC as well. It has lots of features plus it is EASY to use!

So if you haven’t received any notifications on your mobile from Facebook when you try and use the app on your phone, you soon will. If you don’t download and install it, then you will be prevented from sending messages through the app using your mobile.

So Facebook isn’t taking control of my phone?

I don’t believe that is an attempt by Facebook to suddenly start dialling your phone or invading your privacy unduly. Rather it is a move calculated to boost its share of the messaging market. Viber, Snapchat and WhatsApp (which Facebook acquired last year) has seen the use of traditional SMS drop sharply. This is Facebook’s somewhat clumsy attempt to lock in users to their own messaging service. And sometimes as Facebook is wont to do, it has generated both fear and bad publicity for itself by not explaining its motives correctly and clearly.

Facebook says that these fears “are based on misinformation” and the language used is due to Android’s rigid policy on permissions. “Almost all apps need certain permissions to run on Android, and we use these permissions to run features in the app. Keep in mind that Android controls the way the permissions are named, and the way they’re named doesn’t necessarily reflect the way the Messenger app and other apps use them,” a company statement said.

And remember the change will only affect those who use the mobile app on Android and iOS. This will not affect Mobile web, Windows Phone, Facebook for iPad, feature phone and desktop users.

So what will you do?

Messages will be appearing from Facebook in the next few weeks urging the users of the app to download the standalone Messenger version. Some have decided that it’s a step too far and deleted the app completely, some have just accepted it and moved on. So now that you have a little more information on the issue……what will do you do?

You can read the full listing of permissions and other information here.

Psst! Pass it on

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