Facebook’s Messenger App Outrage: Sorting Fact From Fiction

September 2014: If you’re not happy with Facebook because it’s moving all of its mobile chat onto a separate app called Messenger, you’re not alone. Millions of Facebook users are flipping mad about it. But what they hate more than using a different app for sending and receiving messages are all the “permissions” required to access your phone’s contacts, call history, SMS messages, camera, microphone and more.

Hopping intrusiveness! Or is it? Here’s a fiction versus fact comparison to help you decide:

Messenger is Facebook’s brand new ploy to get at the information on your mobile phone. Messenger is a texting and calling mobile app that first came out in 2011.
Messenger has the most intrusive permissions of all time. Google, not FB, wrote the permissions for Android. Apple wrote the permissions for iOS.
Messenger requires more permissions than other apps. Apps need permission to use the data or features on your phone so they can function. The specific permissions depend on what the apps do. Other messaging apps like WhatsApp (also owned by Facebook) ask for the same permissions.
Messenger wants access to my microphone and camera to record and spy on me. Messenger wants access to your microphone and camera to let you record and send messages, photos and videos from within the app.
Messenger wants to know about all of my Contacts, not just my Facebook friends. Messenger wants to let you also text and call people in your Contacts who aren’t your Facebook friends.
Messenger wants to read my SMS/text messages. Messenger wants to read your SMS/text messages – but, according to Facebook, just to verify confirmation codes.
The Android version requires more permissions than the iOS version. Android asks you to accept all permissions the first time you use the app while iOS asks for permission the first time you use each feature.
Facebook is not being upfront when answering concerns about permissions. Facebook is being selective in what it’s choosing to address. Here are some of Facebook’s answers to the criticism the company has received, but it doesn’t address all of the concerns.
My Facebook chatting days are over. You can still chat from your desktop and laptop computers — Messenger is a mobile app only!

With more than a billion Facebook users, it’s no wonder the rumors are flying. Clark Howard, The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and others have weighed in on the topic, trying to calm users’ fears. But they’re also shining a bright light on the permissions ecosystem and the larger mobile phone security issue – which makes us frogs very happy!

Ready to check out Messenger and what’s up with the permissions for yourself?
Android (scroll down and click “View Details” under “Permissions”
iPhone and iPad
Windows Phone (Messenger is not yet mandatory, see “app requires” list on the left)
BlackBerry (Messenger is not yet mandatory)

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