The Internet is agog over the seemingly intrusive permissions for the Facebook Messenger app.
If you use Facebook to communicate with your contacts, you soon may have no choice but to use the app which will soon be the only way mobile users will be able to send messages on Facebook. But at issue is the number and type of permissions the app demands as a condition of use.
Facebook insists critics are making a big deal out of nothing. Facebook can read messages stored on your smartphone? It can operate the camera on your phone without your knowledge?
All true, says Facebook, but it’s not how it looks. The company says it has no intention of doing any of that. Instead, Facebook blames Android’s strict permissions rules necessary for the app to be downloaded and used.
In a post addressing the issues with Messanger on its official help page, the company explains:
“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.”
The uproar over these permissions was mostly generated by Facebook’s mandate recently that mobile users have no choice but to use the app in order to keep messaging contacts on Facebook. Some mobile users have already received notifications that their messages have been moved, or are no longer available on the regular mobile app, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Issues with Facebook’s Messenger app among users have existed for quite some time, as this February tweet on the topic reinforces:
— LandoRicardo (@LandoRicardo) February 26, 2014
But Facebook’s insistence that all mobile users now download the app whether they want to or not has likely brought the issue to a head.
In its help page response to the backlash, Facebook addresses some of the hot-button issues point by point:
- Controversial photo and video permissions are necessary to let users take video and video content an share it through the app.
- Permission to call phone numbers on your phone is necessary to provide a Messenger feature that lets users tap a phone number on the screen and call the number.
- Permission to record audio is necessary for the app to allow users to make free voice calls to contacts and send voice or video messages.
- Permission to receive text messages is necessary, Facebook says, only to allow the app to send a confirmation email to your phone if you wish to add you phone number to your Messenger account.
- Permission to read user phone contacts allows the app to read phone contacts from your phone and add them as contacts on Messager. (This one, Facebook says, you can disable by going to the Messenger settings and unsyncing your phone contacts.)
In short, Facebook claims all these permissions are needed to allow the app to do what it does on your mobile phone.
Has any of this helped allay your fears?
Ah well, it doesn’t much matter. If you plan to keep in touch with contacts on Facebook via mobile, you’ve got no choice but to use the app.
So the only question becomes whether your mobile Facebook contacts are important enough or not.
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