I don’t normally do this, but you’re not leaving me any choice.
We try really hard to not deep dive into the “geek” stuff because…well, because that’s not how we roll.
But this Facebook Messenger app nonsense is driving me absolutely crazy…so please, before another one of you posts on Facebook announcing that you’re uninstalling it because of the permissions…which does nothing more than prove that you don’t pay attention to ANYTHING that goes on your phone at ALL…especially those of you posting those announcements via the Facebook app from your phone…
You forced me to go do some homework and investigating, and so now I’m annoyed and I don’t feel the need to be nice about it any more.
This whole “Facebook Messenger” thing is getting a bit nuts. People, calm yourselves. You don’t trust the media when it tells you ANYTHING else…but you’ve let them work you into a lather over this? C’mon…
When you install it, just tell it that no, you don’t want it synching contacts with your phone, no, you don’t want it to do anything with your phone number, no, it can’t have access to anything other than Facebook chat, and it’s realistically very little different than what you’re likely already using.
Uber, and quite a few other apps that nobody bats an eyelash at, requests the same permissions. But no, it can’t start calling Botswana without you initiating the call yourself. No, it can’t just automatically turn on your mic and start recording without your knowledge. No, it can’t start taking video while it’s on your nightstand. No, it won’t move your car around the parking lot while you’re inside grocery shopping so that you can’t find it.
It’s actually Google’s fault that those permissions read like they do, not Facebook’s.
Let’s take a look the information made available in the Google Play store regarding the permissions required by the basic Facebook application itself, and compare them to the ones required by Facebook Messenger…you know, just for giggles:
|Permissions Required||Facebook Messenger|
|Device & app history||YES||YES|
|retrieve running apps||YES||YES|
|find accounts on the device||YES||YES|
|read your own contact card||YES||NO|
|read your contacts||YES||YES|
|modify your contacts||YES||NO|
|read calendar events plus confidential information||YES||NO|
|add or modify calendar events and send email to guests without owners’ knowledge||YES||NO|
|precise location (GPS and network-based)||YES||YES|
|approximate location (network-based)||YES||YES|
|read your text messages (SMS or MMS)||YES||YES|
|receive text messages (MMS)||NO||YES|
|send SMS messages||NO||YES|
|edit your text messages (SMS or MMS)||NO||YES|
|receive text messages (SMS)||NO||YES|
|write call log||YES||YES|
|directly call phone numbers||YES||YES|
|read call log||YES||YES|
|test access to protected storage||YES||YES|
|modify or delete the contents of your USB storage||YES||YES|
|take pictures and videos||YES||YES|
|Wi-Fi connection information|
|view Wi-Fi connections||YES||YES|
|Device ID & call information|
|read phone status and identity||YES||YES|
|receive data from Internet||YES||YES|
|download files without notification||YES||YES|
|adjust your wallpaper size||YES||NO|
|create accounts and set passwords||YES||NO|
|run at startup||YES||YES|
|prevent device from sleeping||YES||YES|
|view network connections||YES||YES|
|change your audio settings||YES||YES|
|read Google service configuration||YES||YES|
|toggle sync on and off||YES||NO|
|draw over other apps||YES||YES|
|expand/collapse status bar||YES||NO|
|full network access||YES||YES|
|change network connectivity||YES||YES|
|send sticky broadcast||YES||NO|
|read battery statistics||YES||NO|
|reorder running apps||YES||NO|
|connect and disconnect from Wi-Fi||YES||NO|
|read sync settings||YES||NO|
Get the picture now? Unless you’re going to IMMEDIATELY uninstall the basic Facebook application from your phone, you’ve really got nothing to freak out about when it comes to Messenger.
It’s really simple: these permissions are nothing new, and in fact Messenger requires far fewer permissions than the basic Facebook application itself does.
Again: When you install it, just tell it that no, you don’t want it synching contacts with your phone, no, you don’t want it to do anything with your phone number, no, it can’t have access to anything other than Facebook chat, and it’s realistically very little different than what you’re likely already using.
What’s that? You’re going to stay away from those nasty, evil permissions by using the browser on your phone, you say?
That will make it all better, you say?
Guess what? Any browser you have installed on your phone, and I don’t care which one it is, basically has the same permission set. The same ones you’re freaking out about already and then some, and you’ve been using that without batting an eye for…sigh, here’s a snapshot of typical browser permissions:
- read your Web bookmarks and history
- find accounts on the device
- add or remove accounts
- approximate location (network-based)
- precise location (GPS and network-based)
- test access to protected storage
- modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
- take pictures and videos
- record audio
- view Wi-Fi connections
- receive data from Internet
- read sync statistics
- write web bookmarks and history
- view network connections
- prevent device from sleeping
- install shortcuts
- control Near Field Communication
- use accounts on the device
- change your audio settings
- read Google service configuration
- toggle sync on and off
- full network access
- read sync settings
- control vibration
So go back to posting memes, or pictures of your food, or whatever else it is that you do on Facebook…but please, for the love of all that’s good in the world…just shut up about this particular topic.
That’s all for this time. Go read something else: http://www.itinthed.com/read/