Facebook Messenger

Permissions can be scary

Facebook had a pretty rough week. If you weren't paying attention, the Huffington Post used Facebook Messenger for Android as an example of an app with some crazy-scary permissions back in December of last year (that post has been updated, by the by) and it got picked up again and went viral across both the Internet as well as mainstream media. The sky was falling, and Facebook was painted as a company that didn't care about you, your privacy, or your data.

Of course, none of that is true. Facebook may not have the best privacy track-record, but they're not abusing Android permissions to steal your soul. Phil did an excellent job of explaining why those permissions were there, as well as spurring some talk about how things could be done better — both by application developers and Google themselves. In addition, Facebook has finally explained their permissions on their help pages.

Read: Facebook Messenger permissions: Not as scary as the stories might have you believe

We like to think that we're all at least semi-educated about how things of this nature work (especially after Phil's explanation) so I wanted to ask about the Facebook Messenger app and see how many of us uninstalled it over this latest blow-up. You know the drill — there's a poll down below or you can find it on the front page in the right sidebar. Take a second and vote, then talk about why you voted the way you did in the comments. We'll have a look at the results come Friday.


Reader comments

This week's sidebar poll: Did you uninstall the Facebook Messenger app?


I've used it since it was first available. I mean all I use Facebook for is to talk to a bunch of people so I uninstalled Facebook and just use messenger. Haven't looked back.

I rather uninstalled the whole Facebook app everywhere and use Opera just for Facebook
otherwise Facebook is a huge, HUGE privacy threat

So, I get it...none of the permissions are that outlandish if used properly...but that is where I don't have the same trust you do. If I give FB my location, contacts, ability to read texts, record audio...I fully expect that they might and likely will use this information not just to allow me to use the app, but they will record this data and use it in the future for advertising at the minimum and potentially much more. I wish you could opt in to individual permissions to use the features associated with them. Then I would install. I turn off location tagging anyway so no point to give permission to FB when I don't want this 'feature'.

You can root your phone and change the permissions. And doesn't Google, the manufacturer of your device, and your carrier also have the same if not more permissions if not more. So why aren't you worried about them?

There are apps that obscure all your information.

Also, FB's policies are not always relevant. Ask Snowden.

Those permission create a door you could use for an aircraft hanger.

Posted via the Android Central App

I never had it installed.
Not because of it's permissions. But, I don't see any use in it, as long as Facebook's main app has the messages function. I don't see, why I should install anything redundant...
Will have to install it, as soon as Facebook drops the messaging in it's main app, though... Not looking forward to that.

Mine did it yesterday. I Refuse to install a second app to regain a feature of a social network.

Posted via the Android Central App

I refuse to install it too. Who uses a second app to read messages from another app?

Posted via Android Central App

Same here. I won't be installing it either. Hangouts is the best way to reach me on any of my devices now, be it computer, phone or tablet. For friends and family who don't have it or won't use it, they still have texts. I just might not reply as quick if I don't have my phone handy.

The thing is the difference between messaging in the FB app and the standalone app is kind of like the difference between the telegraph and email.

Hyperbole aside, it's worth thinking about who loses out more, you or Facebook. If Facebook, fair enough get rid. Just don't cut off your nose to spite your face.

Posted via Android Central App

On iOS, you're forced to install it now. It you tap on messages in the FB app, it just tells you to go download the messenger app. I'm guessing it'll be like that sooner or later on Android too. I've just started using the browser like a lot of people. Nothing running in the background, no crazy permissions to worry about etc.

It does it with Android as well. I uninstalled the app and now use the web browser version. Much nicer anyways, plus, I don't have to jump through hoops to get most recent stories!

^This! I hated going through hoops to get to most recent stories, I dont care about what they think recommended stories should be. I've gone to web only as well.

Ditto. I'm with-holding updating the main facebook app to see how long they allow me to continue using the main app for messages. :p

I use it because the main Facebook app is pretty much junk. It's usually slow to respond, gets stuck in the wrong windows sometimes, and has various random problems that make it unreliable. I prefer messaging to be simple and quick, and the Messenger app does that.

I really appreciated the report Phil put together. I shared it many times with my Facebook community and friends as a source for answers where they were trusting unreliable sources (as I deal with on a daily basis in my career) Thanks for the info and keep up the good work!

As an aside I have been using the messenger app for a long time (since they released it) and find a very valuable way to communicate with my friends around the globe. I haven't had any issues.

Posted via Android Central App

Ditto to this. I had several friends that hit panic mode without doing their research. Shared Phil's article with many people.

Posted via Android Central App

Lazy? So, doing something out of convenience isn't simply for convenience but rather laziness? Stop using your phone or computer for communication you lazy bum. Use a pen and paper to send it through the postal system.

They haven't fixed that bug yet? I uninstalled months ago partly due to that and partly due yo the way FB was having a laugh with permissions back then too. The mobile website works better than the app anyway.

Posted via Android Central App

I've read Phil's article and I still use it, mainly because I have too many friends and family just on Facebook and nothing else. I personally rather use Twitter.

Posted via Android Central App

I'm not so paranoid as to uninstall an app just because it asks for certain permissions. It's not like I have anything to hide.

Posted via Android Central App

I never have particularly liked facebook and had been meaning to uninstall facebook from my portable devices anyway. I uninstalled everything facebook from all portable devices. I still make some use of it from the browser. It was to intrusive already and kept alerting me to a lot of bs I didn't care about had no use for.

I deleted the Facebook and messenger apps and stopped notification emails awhile back and find my life simpler...

I don't understand why people whinge and moan about great free apps, I mean what's the problem with it?
I never uninstalled it, I know that its going to need all sorts of permissions for features to work.

Posted via Android Central App

Not all smartphone users are spoiled brats. I've had smartphones for years and I'm far from a spoiled brat. I saved up my money to buy my first smartphone which was a Motorola Q back in 2007. Back then it was between $250 and $300. I upgrade when I have the opportunity to do so but don't always have to have the latest and greatest in technology when I do. The main factor for me even getting a new phone is (1) will it make my life easier? and (2) will I be happy with the phone? The last time I upgraded my phone (which was on June 24, 2013), I had a chance to upgrade to a Samsung Galaxy S3 or a Samsung Galaxy S4. I chose the S3 because based on everything I read on it, this phone was definitely a solid phone and I didn't need all the gimmicks that the S4 had. Also the S3 was $99 at the Verizon store and the S4 was $199 at the Verizon store. I figured that I could use the $100 I saved by getting the S3 and use that money to spoil my two nephews and now 14 month old niece rotten.

Actually I missed the controversy while on vacation. Wouldn't have uninstalled anyway, I like the messenger app and chat heads. Groups I'm in use facebook chat to keep in touch so I'm going to have to have it anyway.

I had it installed, then uninstalled it, then reinstalled it, and uninstalled it yet again. Lol, yet this was like three or four months ago. I didn't care about the permissions, but the FB messenger, was a HUGE battery hog, and even more so than FB. Plus, I don't use FB to send our receive messages, I text, email, or call. Even if someone did messege me, it took me days to weeks to respond.

I will LOVE the Facebook App even more, once those annoying messages are gone! I did them a favor and deleted all of my FB messages since early 2007. Learn to let go of things, and life becomes much simpler and stress free. :)

-Gold made Sense, on HTC's One M8

I installed today only because I was forced to. I might uninstall them both but not because of permissions or privacy.

Posted via Android Central App

Who the hello reads the huffington post? Talk about a political propaganda rag. I uninstalled FB weeks ago when they were requiring that I install their anti virus software on my PC.

I can't stand that site, it's like a breeding ground for stupid.. sometimes I try to enlighten the commenters with simple facts, but the echo chamber is so thick they just pounce at once and attack you (ridiculous and childish insults usually) for everything they can think of.

I've literally only ever found 2 people there capable of disagreeing with intellectual arguments and no name calling.

What even are you talking about? Facebook is not an app on your computer that you install and they do not have an antivirus. Stop spreading FUD

Posted via Android Central App

When I dropped FB on the PC, I also uninstalled the app on my phone. Sorry, I thought that was implied... And yes they do indeed. I still see it as some sites require a FB log in, and I still get the message from FB that I have to install their whatever.....

Uhhhhh you've got some sort of malware it looks like. Facebook has never prompted me to install anything.

Posted via Android Central App

Upon further examination... As in actually reading the message, I think it wants to disable my AD block App. So same diff as far as I'm concerned. At any rate, who feels like it's a good thing to put money in Zuckerburg's pocket...

Your Account Is Temporarily Locked for Security
It looks like the internet browser you're using may be affected by malicious extensions. We’ll help you fix the problem so you can securely log into your account.
Malicious extensions are a kind of malware, software that steals your personal information and causes problems when you use Facebook. Clicking or sharing links than contain spam can give your computer malware.

While it's fine to vent about Huffington, that has nothing to do with their correctness in any one case. Otherwise, it becomes counter propaganda. It's an illogical fallacy. :)

Posted via the Android Central App

Of course it dose. Politics like religion affects everything. They are the very definition of a logical fallacy. And politics is the very reason they exist. And when you're in the bag for one political view point, it guides everything you do. It's like asking a pastor where the best place to eat is. He may leave out all the places that serve alcohol.

Facebook messenger is the best messaging app out there. If your scared, go to church. Or at least swap your smartphone for a dumbphone...

Posted via My Galaxy S5 and soon to be Galaxy Note 4...

It's a stupid app in general, and I barely used it when it was part of Facebook. I'm definitely not willing to install a separate one just to use that function.

Heck, I should probably uninstall the main app anyway.

I quit Facebook on July 1st as a dare and I haven't been back on since. I think my account is going to stay suspended for quite a while......

Posted via Android Central App

Hate to admit it but messenger for facebook is a im app that is done very very well. You can send photo, video, location, voice record, call etc....its very polished and I find that it works as it should, all features (including calling) most of them time.


I think that is where some of the controversy lies. In contrast I only want to SMS folks that just use FB. I don't want apps with three times as many permissions as my security software. Nor ones that kill my battery.

It's feature rich rather than bloated but not where needs are concerned.

Posted via the Android Central App

I've been using the Messenger app since it was released 2 years ago. I laughed at all those yelling of the permissions the Messenger app had, but I usually replied with a screen shot of the current Facebook app itself permissions, which were the same since it is embedded currently.

Posted via Android Central App

I HATE Facebook, so it was never installed, there's a good chance the main app will not get installed on my next phone

I'm also one who used it since it came out. I've had no problem using it, not sure what the big deal is about since it shares a lot of the same permissions.

Posted via my Nexus 5 in the Android Central App

Didn't uninstall it. I like messenger but it used to be better before they changed the whole look. I wish I had never updated it. Facebook has a bad habit of sacrificing certain features for others..

Posted via Android Central App on The Nexus 5

Definitely did not uninstall. I know it seems crazy, but an app that can send and receive SMS messages and make phone calls needs to *gasp* have access to SMS and make phone calls.

Posted via Android Central App

No. Exactly the opposite. Additionally, they lack your trust. Yes, many are required for the features. You give little thought to what is accessible outside of the feature needs for a permission.

Posted via the Android Central App

I read their permission explanations. Completely inadequate and incomplete to the point of encouraging suspicion. Written for a ten year old or novice.

I know what's needed, but I expect a detailed concise explanation, not a sales job. It's security.

Posted via the Android Central App

Unlike some of you, I really don't mind having both the Facebook app and the Facebook Messenger app on my phone. There are times that Facebook Messenger is quicker for me when I'm wanting to have a conversation with one of my friends that's also on Facebook. It just depends on my mood whether I use the Facebook app or their Messenger app. All this fear-mongering about the permissions about the Messenger app didn't convince me that I needed to uninstall that app.

I just didn't update my facebook beta app, not sure if that's how I've gotten around it or not. Messages work just fine. It's not a huge deal to me either way.

I can't even count the number of posts by my ignorant friends protesting the permissions. It's like, learn about your device and android for cripes sake.

There are xposed framework modules that let you control permissions per app if you're that worried...

Some might be ignorant or paranoid. Keep in mind for many it is a matter of principle. They want to send a message to their service providers that their privacy is not something to be trivialized. They want them to defend their rights rather than just the opposite. This and real security concerns are driving some to adopt encryption.

There are many points of security vulnerability including apps. The phone's ROM being an excellent choice. Frankly I could care less outside of a technical interest. Oh, except for that whole eroding civil rights issue.


Posted via the Android Central App

Separately, there are indeed apps that control permissions by application or spoof your personal information. I read some naturally break the app.

Any recommendations would be great.

Posted via the Android Central App

I never installed it. I had never heard about the permissions dust up. I just never liked the idea of having another app for something so unnecessary. I knew the chance was coming and have actually told my actual friends that if they need to get a hold of me, they know how. If some acquaintance can't get a Facebook message to me until I use the desktop site, oh well.

Does anyone remember their recent experiment without notifying anyone? FB is known for this secretive BS and they are tight with the government. No Messenger app for me and I would delete FB altogether if my family would give it up.

Posted via Android Central App

It is no different than the research advertising agencies do in order to promote their products. You think advertisements are just put together on the fly. Millions is spent on market research in order to produce those ads. Facebook, along with Amazon, Google, Apple, and others do the same thing. The problem is the complexity of EULAs and the fact that most people don't read them. Any free service will conduct the same kinds of data manipulation in order to maximize monitization.

Posted via Android Central App

I have it installed but I'm using AppOps through Xposed to feed it with fake data. Gotta fight fire with fire, u know. So FB, I got one-up over you. Hahahahaha

This logic baffles me. It is like expecting GPS to give you accurate directions while not letting it know where you are.

Posted via Android Central App

No, because I'm not paranoid or clueless about how my phone works. I've used it since the beginning, and it works quite nicely. And it's much faster and more reliable than using the awful Facebook app, anyway.

Yes I have uninstalled the app. The permissions didn't scare me, but I found the app notefications too intrusive - I get plenty of notefications from lots of apps, and the facebook messenger notefications couldn't be turned off so I removed the app.

This is in my opinion the number one thing. Those permissions are no different than other apps which have to do the same things. It is the way the app takes over the phone and the way it does notifications and the little control you have over them.

Posted via Android Central App

I don't care for Facebook much. I only use it to post pictures of the baby for the family and friends. I use Google+ much more.

I will delete fb apps all and start using on chrome,,,,works perfect and dnt need mssnger fot chat

HTC Desire S»HTC Desire HD»HTC One S»HTC M8

Still have it because I talk to others with it.

They could've integrated it within the app, though. The pop-up chat tabs are a nice feature IMHO.

Posted via Android Central App

I never installed it in the first place. Facebook doesn't have a good reputation for creating stellar apps, and I'm concerned about how another Facebook app will affect my Nexus 4's battery.

Plus I hate being forced into installing apps I don't want.

Posted via Android Central App

People do not understand the implications of Big Data - Facebook's acquisition of WhatsApp was no accident, and neither is their pushing of FB Messenger!!!

By acquiring WhatsApp, they have a central data base of contact numbers - and giving FB Messenger the ability to read your contacts gives them the ability to assoiciate numbers to names etc. Now multiply the implications of the existing WhatsApp user base by the
Facebook user base and all the personal data people already upload on Facebook.

This is a Big Data gold mine for Facebook...right under your noses with an 'innocent' disguise!!!

Posted via Android Central App

Exactly! People don't realize that the "reasons for the permissions" could easily be just a cover for what they are really doing. Example: Everything Hitler did, he gave a good reason for and it sounded good to the masses, so they all just went along with it. There are many, MANY other examples where people have used businesses as a cover for their drug operations, sex slavery, etc.

Not saying that Facebook is doing any of these things, just that people think that they are 100% innocent and would never do anything bad. In almost every case where corruption had been discovered, it was too late by that point. There is nothing wrong with worry-warts taking a “better safe than sorry” approach.

you....you're comparing facebook messenger needing SMS permissions so it can send and receive SMS messages to..... Hitler....... What even......

I knew somebody was going to say that...

An example is just that; an example. Of course it's not as extreme, but my point is still valid. You never know when something that seems innocent on the outside can end up being something terrible that, by the time it surfaces, ruined many peoples lives.

Hitler is just a great example because he was almost seen as a savior and did many things to help fix Germany's collapsed economy and was actually one of the greatest leaders ever. I bet many people were surprised to find out what he was really up to. Just goes to show how evil people can be and you can't trust everybody.

People laugh at others that fall for things like the "Nigerian Prince" email scams, but when it comes to Facebook, anybody that even questions their God-like intentions are conspiracy theorists and fear mongers.

There's a hack so you can still use normal FB for messages. Just install the messenger and then disable it in settings > apps. Works like a charm. You're welcome

I uninstalled it because I'm moving away from Facebook. Also because I don't like having multiple apps for nearly the same thing (Foursquare and Swarm).

There's no reason to split an app into two. I'll use the mobile FB (browser version) for messenger, and the FB app for pretty much anything else I'll use FB for. Same thing with Foursquare... It was ridiculous to split the app into two.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/facebook-experiments-had-few-limits-14043... I'm just gonna leave this link here...

Do I think FB is evil? Nope. Misguided? Yes. Do I think they make resource / battery hogging apps? HELL YES. Why they hell would they split 1 app into 3? Facebook, Messenger, & Pages Manager (for my podcast page)... Give me one app that works well. Until then, I'm happy to have better battery life using Chrome and mobile FB.

Oh, Jerry Hildenbrand, "Permissions can be scary" is quite the disparaging quip about your readers, no?

Here is my thing with it, I couldn't get rid of the icon of the person I sent a message to. It stayed on my screen until I actually deleted the message. Uninstalled.

I distrust Facebook so much that the only "constant" on my phone for the last 8 months is the notification asking for me to update the Facebook app...which I've refused to do for at least that long.

Is anybody still using Facebook anyway?

I feel that anything put out on the Internet is up for grabs. If you want it kept private, then keep it private on your own. No company can completely protect you just like no person can completely protect you.

I have it. It's really fairly transparent in use.
I see the alert for the message in the main fb app, but when I click on it, messenger opens.
It's not like I ever have to actually open messenger (as in, click on the icon)

Posted via Android Central App

I haven't uninstalled it because of so many friends and family that i connect to via the messenger but since my phone is rooted using Cyanogenmod i blocked most of its permissions in Privacy guard ..

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