Aug 10, 2014

Are the permissions required by the new Facebook Messenger app too invasive?

I’ve heard and read a few “sky is falling” discussions about the new Facebook Messenger app that Facebook is making mandatory for IMs. The main concern is that the permissions granted to the apps give it unfettered access to your private data, and that Facebook will be able to use it to see essentially everything that you do. Discounting a little for hyperbole, is there some validity to these concerns? Does the Facebook Messenger app require an unusually broad set of permissions?

If you find Facebook to be too intrusive, you can always delete your account permanently like I did:


Wow, this is the second time today I’m defending a company I wouldn’t normally defend. It’s funny that most people just click “OK” when they install an app without giving a second glance, but when it’s Facebook there is a collective, “OMG, look at the permissions!” This is not to totally discount the concerns, because let's be real, Facebook will take any info they can get about you and monetize it to the best of their ability. Your privacy is not their concern. If you really value your privacy, don’t use Facebook. At all. 


That said, this is a messaging app, so by it’s nature there are going to be broader permissions required than most other apps. If you look at the permissions required for Snapchat, they are almost identical. A legitimate question is whether there is a need for two Facebook apps, the main app and messenger. That uses a lot of resources, especially since the Facebook app is already pretty notorious for having a negative impact on battery life. Android Central has a breakdown of the permissions, what they do, and why the Facebook Messenger app requests them. Short version - it’s a messaging app, it needs most of them to work properly. 

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