There has been a lot of confusion lately over the Facebook Messenger app and what it wants to do once it’s on your phone. There are blog posts and reports saying the sky is falling, the permissions are insane, and everybody should uninstall it or never install it. There are blog posts and reports saying no, that’s a hoax, it’s really OK, go ahead and install it.
As an Android fan girl, I read the permissions for the Android app.
Interestingly, Facebook has named their install file “orca” as in killer whale. I’m assuming they are hoping it’ll kill Google Hangouts, Google Voice, and your phone’s text messaging and calling. Because it wants to be all of those things… the killer (whale) app.
It’s all there in black and white, no need for he said/she said.
This is an easy one to determine. We don’t have to wonder whether alarmists are right or mellow, unworried people are right. And you are welcome to install it or not. But you should know to what you are agreeing to give Facebook access (that they don’t have access to now). For example:
- A log of your past phone calls. Why does Facebook need to see who I’ve been calling?
- The ability to dial my phone for me. Well, I can do that myself nicely, thanks. How about you just tell me the number.
- Sending, receiving, reading, and editing text messages (SMS and MMS aka multimedia messages aka pictures you and others text each other). Facebook wants to see those and send them for you. Thanks but I don’t need any help there.
- All the Wi-Fi networks I’ve logged into. Why?
- Keep my phone from sleeping. Well, that sounds like a serious battery drain. Why would you want to do that?
- The ability to download files to your phone without telling you. OK, what? What is so important that you need to download files AND not tell me?
That’s just some of the permissions that make me uneasy. You might dislike other permissions once you read all of them.
I uninstalled the app a few weeks ago. I don’t miss it. I have a shortcut on my home screen to the mobile web page for Facebook messages. That’ll work fine. Anybody who needs my attention faster can email, call, Google Hangout, or text. It’s not like you can only reach me via Facebook messages. I could never use that again and reach people just fine.
Beware of Orca
It’s important to read permissions. I have uninstalled other apps when they updated their permissions. I remember when Skype wanted to turn my wifi on when it felt like it and “Draw” over everything else. I uninstalled.
Sure, you might say what’s the point. Internet privacy is like airport security… it’s a lame story, so why bother. Go ahead. I understand that as an Android user, Google knows everything. But I don’t need Facebook to know everything. I can control that. That’s what I’m choosing to do.
What do you want to teach Facebook and future companies about what they can do inside your phone or with your information? Jeez, this article doesn’t even TOUCH what Facebook could possibly down the road do with all they collect about you. Could they then let advertisers advertise to you differently because Facebook notices you keep calling certain businesses? I don’t even want to imagine.
Killer Whales. Not known for being nice.