So You’re Afraid of Facebook Messenger Privacy? Look at these other app permissions…

Facebooktwitterredditmail

Facebook has come under some intense scrutiny this past week with their drive to move their messaging component out of the main Facebook app. While I’m a firm believer that users should know what they’re getting into when they install apps, for many geeks such as myself it’s been clear all along that this recent move has been blown out of proportion.

If you’re note familiar with the controversy – the issue is that the Facebook Messenger app requires a lot of permission to install, and many people are worried with wording such as the following

  • “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 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.”

Of course it’s very easy for the uneducated to blame Facebook on these terms and condition but what many don’t realize is that the referenced security warnings are actually standard Android permission verbiage.

Android operates differently than iOS when an app is installed. With Google’s Android all of the disclaimers/permissions are granted when an app is first installed; however, with Apple many of the permission requests are displayed later when a user actually tries to use the feature which requires the authorization. Now while Google’s verbiage can be perceived as scary, the fact of the matter is that many applications require these permissions but they don’t actually use them in a scary way. For example, let’s say you’re using any messenger that allows you to take a selfie and send it to your chat partner. Most messenger apps have a built in feature to simply access the camera, take the photo and attach it your conversation. If users did not grant the app permission to use the camera, how would it take the photo without exiting the app and taking the photo separately? That seems like an inconvenience. Now you may be concerned about apps reading your contact and their phone numbers, right? Well one of the greatest features of different messengers is the ability to easily add contacts to these apps by matching up their phone numbers to their messenger profile. If the app did not have permission to access your contacts it would be impossible to locate your friends without manual input. So perhaps by now you understand those two points but are saying “Stephen, isn’t it creepy that Facebook can listen and record my audio?” Have you noticed that little grey microphone button at the bottom of Facebook Messenger? Yes, I’m referring to the one that allows you to send an audio message to your chat partner. How exactly is the app going to record your voice-messenger if it doesn’t have permission to use your microphone? Simple – it can’t.

Now while I’m not making any guarantees that Facebook couldn’t (in theory) use the permissions for their own gain, the reality is that this standard permission wording is found on many applications – may of which you may even have installed right now. Every day people sign up for services and agree to terms that they don’t read and the same goes for installing apps on your device and not reading the permissions. If you don’t believe me I’ve compiled some not-so-pretty (my apologies) screenshots of a variety of popular apps and the permissions they require. If you look through the photos you’ll see a lot of the same permissions that Facebook Messenger requires.

Once again I do always think that people should be aware what they’re agreeing to when they use services but I also do think that that in this instance with Facebook things have been greatly blown out of proportion because of some media sites running the story with the “big brother” overtone. While its ultimately up to you whether or not you install the app – I’m won’t be uninstalling my Facebook Messenger anytime soon.



Avatar ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Stephen is a west coast Canadian who enjoys pretty much all things geeky. Whether it's podcasting, playing with tech or just watching a great re-run of Star Trek, Stephen is probably interested in it. GonnaGeek is the brain child of Stephen. You see, for years he has helped run a variety of specific genre websites (such as comics, Star Trek, etc) but sometimes he found himself needing to talk more than just comics... that's why he created GonnaGeek. Stephen is currently the Producer, Editor and a Co-Host of the Official GonnaGeek.com Show (www.gonnageek.com/show/) and Better Podcasting (www.betterpodcasting.com). He also runs www.thepodcastforum.com

Tags: , , , , , ,

1 Comment

  1. Avatar russ says:

    Nobody is expressing the user permission titled other? That makes Facebook look bad! Can anyone explain the permissions listed under other?

Leave a Comment

 

— required *

— required *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

GonnaGeek.com Show LIVE #338 – Live Recording (8:45pm ET Recording Time)
Posted July 13th, 2020 -
Twitch Streaming Pop Out Alternative Players: [ YouTube: Pop Out and use the YouTube Player | Mixer: Pop Out and use the Mixer Player ] | [ Twitch: Pop Out and use the Twitch Player ]
Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. “The Totally Excellent Adventures Of Mack And The D” S07E07 Review (A Marvel Comic Universe Podcast) LoS340
Posted July 12th, 2020 -
The Legends Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Director SP, Agent Lauren, and Agent Michelle discuss the ABC television series Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode “The Totally Excellent Adventures of Mack and the ...
Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. “Adapt Or Die” S07E06 Review (A Marvel Comic Universe Podcast) LoS339
Posted July 5th, 2020 -
The Legends Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Director SP, Agent Lauren, and Agent Michelle discuss the ABC television series Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode “Adapt Or Die.” The Agents debrief you on all the ...
GonnaGeek.com Show #337 – Gonna Go To The Moon, Eh?
Posted July 2nd, 2020 -
News points this week include: Microsoft releases a file recovery tool for accidental deleted files 2020 iPhones may not come with a power adapter or earbuds Canada is going to the moon Charles Entertainment ...
Just Say Goodbye League
Posted July 2nd, 2020 -
As per episode 335 of the Official GonnaGeek Show, here’s a dedicated page to track the status of the members of the CW Justice League table, in relation to their status in CW’s active lineup.
Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. “A Trout In The Milk” S07E05 Review (A Marvel Comic Universe Podcast) LoS338
Posted June 28th, 2020 -
The Legends Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Director SP, Agent Lauren, Agent Haley and Agent Michelle discuss the ABC television series Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode “A Trout In The Milk.” The Agents debrief ...
GonnaGeek.com Show #336 – Gonna Destroy The Multiverse
Posted June 26th, 2020 -
News points this week include: SpaceX Building an Offshow Spaceport Michael Keaton possibly returning as Batman Microsoft Closing Mixer Plus in our segment, SP educates us about Mariner 9. This Week’s ...
Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. “Out Of The Past” S07E04 Review (A Marvel Comic Universe Podcast) LoS337
Posted June 21st, 2020 -
The Legends Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Director SP, Agent Michelle, and Executive Consultant Stephen discuss the ABC television series Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode “Out Of The Past.” The Agents debrief ...
GonnaGeek.com Show #335 – Gonna Silence SP
Posted June 19th, 2020 -
News points this week include: NASA selects Kathy Leuders to run human spaceflight program Star Wars Celebration 2020 Cancelled New Star Wars game Space launch delays Kate Kane is not being killed off ...
Agents Of SHIELD “Alien Commies From The Future” S07E03 Review (A Marvel Comic Universe Podcast) LoS336
Posted June 14th, 2020 -
The Legends Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Director SP, Agent Lauren, and Agent Michelle discuss the ABC television series Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode “Alien Commies From The Future.” The Agents debrief ...
GonnaGeek.com Show #334 – Gonna Be Confused By Google, Again
Posted June 14th, 2020 -
News points this week include: Google Duo adding a share link feature to Google Duo, and where the difference is Google Meet DC Comics cuts ties with Diamond Comic Distributors SpaceX SN4 prototype explodes Pixel ...
Agents Of SHIELD “Know Your Onions” S07E02 Review (A Marvel Comic Universe Podcast) LoS335
Posted June 7th, 2020 -
The Legends Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Director SP, Agent Haley, and Agent Michelle discuss the ABC television series Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode “Know Your Onions.” The Agents debrief you on all ...