Or take pictures of you on auto-pilot.
Or send your profile information to others.
Or call up your friends (or worse, non friends) without your intervention.
Recently, Facebook has been getting its users to install its new Messenger app because soon, we won’t be able to use Facebook’s messaging feature without the actual Facebook Messenger app. While the idea behind this “force download this free app and use it” seems good for Facebook since it leaves users no other choice but to use the app (much to its users’ dismay), drama regarding privacy concerns has brewed over this recent development.
It all stemmed from this old Huffington Post news.
The post is currently doing its rounds on the interwebs, warning Facebook Messenger users of the app’s “insidious” terms of service. You know, the usually one-off ones that most people just tend to just scroll past really fast and agree to or accept without stopping to read. Well, it appears that these were stated in the terms of service:
- 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. Malicious apps may cost you money by making calls without your confirmation.
- Allows the app to send SMS messages. This may result in unexpected charges. Malicious apps may cost you money by sending messages without your confirmation.
- 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 your 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.
Users who have seen or heard of the above outrageous Facebook Messenger terms have called the company out to have pushed this too far. After all, Facebook has always been thrown right smack into the heat of privacy issues, amongst other things. Plus, to put it into perspective, over 1,000,000,000 people have accepted the said terms, raising alarm to how “frightening” this issue really is.
Calm down, people. It could’ve all just been blown out of proportion. Maybe the app just needs access to your handset’s microphone so you don’t have to grant it access every time you make a phone call through it? Maybe it just needs access to your camera otherwise you won’t be able to use the function to send snapshots to your friends?:
According to IBN Live, Facebook has also come forward to clear the air by saying, “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.”
This means that you could’ve given similar permissions in the past while installing other apps as well! But just as harmless altogether.
And what about forcing users to download the Facebook Messenger app?
A Facebook spokesman said that the move is intended is intended to ensure that users have a consistent and high-quality experience. The free, standalone Messenger app is faster than the messaging service that’s currently built into Facebook’s primary mobile app. On top of that, Facebook users can also access more features in the Messenger app, such as the ability to make voice phone calls.
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