By now, Facebook has probably insisted that you download its new Messenger app. And by now, you’ve probably read all the scary articles about the kinds of permissions it requests. But, to be honest, a lot of your apps ask for those kinds of permissions. Which doesn’t make those permissions less scarier or less invasive, it simply speaks to how much faith you have in the company behind the app.

People tend to be suspicious when it comes to Facebook, because they’ve taken on a big brother role in the past. Recently, they began adjusting the stories the people saw on their timeline to see if what people saw made them happier or sadder. It was pretty uncool. But they’re Facebook, so they think they can do whatever they want.

Sometimes they can, like when they insist that you download a messenger app to continue messaging your friends on your phones.

People have been very hesitant to download the app because of the permissions required to access it. It feels like a major invasion of our privacy and a lot of people have refused to install the new app at all, forgoing the ability to message people from their mobile devices. But before we have a collective panic attack, let’s take a look at the permissions it requests and what they are actually for:

  • Take pictures and videos: This allows you to use Messenger app to take photos/videos send them to your friends.
  • Record audio: Audio lets you send voice messages and videos and make phone calls from Messenger
  • Directly call phone numbers: This lets you call people directly from the messenger app.
  • Receive text messages (SMS): If you add a phone number to your Messenger account, this allows you to confirm your phone number by finding the confirmation code sent via text message
  • Read your contacts: This permission allows you to add your phone contacts as Messenger contacts. You can always stop syncing your phone contacts by going to your Messenger settings

Many apps request permissions like this. In fact, a lot of the apps on your phone probably have a very similar list of permissions. (For an even more in-depth break down of the permissions and what they’re for, check this out.) It’s truly not unusual. (Which doesn’t make it any less annoying.) However, it’s understandable why people would be suspicious of the app. It comes down to: How much do you trust Facebook?

As with other things in security, whether or not you download this app is a judgement call – YOUR judgement call. If you’re comfortable giving these permissions to the other apps on your phone, maybe you’re okay with downloading the app. Or maybe this whole thing makes you so suspicious that you delete the Facebook app all together. In the end, it’s your choice. Just think before you click “Install” and make an informed decision!

 

For more on how Android’s app permissions work:

http://www.intego.com/mac-security-blog/app-permissions-android-vs-iphone/

http://www.androidcentral.com/new-google-play-store-4820-greatly-simplifies-permissions 

 

And check out this Snopes breakdown of the rumors circulating around the Facebook messenger app.

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