Saturday, August 16, 2014

What Is The Deal With The New Facebook Messenger App?

     Smartphone users of Android and iPhone got a somewhat rude awakening earlier this month, when Facebook forced its users to switch to a third party app for messaging with Facebook. This move created a stir of blogs and posts, of mostly overblown and over hyped privacy concerns. Most of the posts highlight draconian "Terms of Use" features and policies such as "call phone numbers on your contact list without your intervention" or "use of the camera at any time without your permission" or "access to contact list without permission".

     The reason we are hearing so much about this is because of the way Android handles policy permissions on its operating system. Facebook doesn't get to write its own version of the policy and is forced to use "generic" language to comply with Android application permission rules.

     Application developers tend to have more control over Apple iOS application permissions which handle the process differently.

     Android users must agree to all the permissions at once in order to use the app. This tends to be true for most applications that are written for Android. On the iPhone, users are prompted for permissions during normal use of the application. For example, if the iPhone user never makes a call using the Facebook messenger the app might not ever ask for permission.

     iPhone users can actually deny permissions as well, when they come up. The iPhone might be considered superior to the Android if privacy is a top priority.

     What this all really boils down to is, while some users think that this is a cumbersome action to download a separate application that was once included in a single application, they aren't actually giving up much privacy in the process.

Here is a link to Facebook's help page, if you are concerned about your privacy using the app on your Android smartphone:

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