Facebook Messenger vs. Google Hangouts: A side-by-side look at permissions

We put Facebook's much-maligned messaging app permissions up against Google's Hangouts app

Not to belabor the point — because I think most everyone who read our takedown of all the FUD and confusion surrounding the ill-informed stories about Facebook Messenger got it — but here's an interesting exercise. We recently recommended that when you have questions about the permissions an application is declaring, you should look at a similar app. It might not tell you the whole story, but it should give you a pretty good idea of whether an app has the power to do something nefarious.

If, say, one wallpaper application has the ability to make phone calls and another doesn't, you need to look for why it needs that ability. Make sense?

So let's put Facebook Messenger up against another popular messaging app — Google Hangouts. If you somehow haven't used Hangouts before, it's Google's messaging service, and it also now is Google's preferred text messaging app. (Though you'll still find other messaging apps on most manufacturers' phones, even if they have Hangouts installed.)

Let's put the permissions side by side — as copied directly from Google Play — and see what it looks like. All in the name of science.


Swipe to scroll horizontally
Facebook MessengerGoogle Hangouts
Find accounts on the deviceFind accounts on the device
Read your own contact cardAdd or remove accounts

Looks a little like Google Hangouts has just a little more power there, with the ability to add or remove accounts. Not anything we'd be worried about, though. It's the sort of thing you'd expect to see in a Google service app.


Swipe to scroll horizontally
Facebook MessengerGoogle Hangouts
Read your contactsRead your contacts
Row 1 - Cell 0 Modify your contacts

So Google Hangouts has the added ability of being able to modify your contacts and not just read them. Facebook Messenger can only read your contacts.


Swipe to scroll horizontally
Facebook MessengerGoogle Hangouts
Approximate location (network-based)Approximate location (network-based)
Precise location (GPS and network-based)Precise location (GPS and network-based)

This one, unsurprisingly, is dead even. Pretty standard stuff for finding your location, really. And both apps allow you to attach your location to a message. (Hangouts, though, requires you to add it yourself, whereas Facebook Messenger shares your location in every new message by default. Here's how to turn that off.)

SMS (text messaging)

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Facebook MessengerGoogle Hangouts
edit your text messages (SMS or MMS)read your text messages (SMS or MMS)
receive text messages (SMS)receive text messages (SMS)
read your text messages (SMS or MMS)send SMS messages
send SMS messagesedit your text messages (SMS or MMS)
receive text messages (MMS)receive text messages (MMS)

The only interesting here is that Facebook Messenger and Google Hangouts are listing the exact same sub-permissions in slightly different orders. (I have no idea why.) Otherwise, this is exactly what you'd expect to see in a couple apps that serve as text messaging applications.


Swipe to scroll horizontally
Facebook MessengerGoogle Hangouts
edit your text messages (SMS or MMS)read your text messages (SMS or MMS)
Directly call phone numbersDirectly call phone numbers
Read call logRow 2 - Cell 1

Facebook Messenger can see your call log. Hangouts can't. It'll be interesting to see if that changes if and when Google Voice gets folded in.

Photos/media files

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Facebook MessengerGoogle Hangouts
Test access to protected storageModify or delete the contents of your USB storage
Modify or delete the contents of your USB storageTest access to protected storage

Again, standard stuff for an application that wants to cache any sort of data instead of re-downloading it again and again. It's just not explained clearly at all.


Swipe to scroll horizontally
Facebook MessengerGoogle Hangouts
Take pictures and videosRecord audio
Record audioTake pictures and videos

Want to take pictures or video? Want to use the microphone at all? You need these permissions. Standard. Stuff.

Wi-Fi connection information

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Facebook MessengerGoogle Hangouts
View Wi-Fi connectionsView Wi-Fi connections

Another basic permission shared by both apps, and there are myriad reasons why an app would declare this. Hangouts, for example, needs to move a lot of data if you're making a video call. So it'd want to know if you're on Wifi or a cellular connection.

Device ID & call information

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Facebook MessengerGoogle Hangouts
Read phone status and identityRead phone status and identity

As we've explained before, this is a bad name for a permission that allows a number of low-level things that apps might need. Apps also need it to see if there's an active call. Again, nothing you wouldn't expect in either Facebook Messenger or Hangouts.

Other permissions

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Facebook MessengerGoogle Hangouts
Receive data from Internetreceive data from Internet
Download files without notificationread instant messages
Run at startupExchanges messages
and receives sync notifications from Google servers
Prevent device from sleepingfull network access
View network connectionscontrol vibration
Install shortcutsrun at startup
Change your audio settingsuse accounts on the device
Read Google service configurationview network connections
Draw over other appscontrol Near Field Communication
Full network accessread Google service configuration
Read sync settingsprevent device from sleeping
Control vibrationchange your audio settings
Change network connectivitypair with Bluetooth devices
Row 13 - Cell 0 change network connectivity
Row 14 - Cell 0 send sticky broadcast

There's a lot going on here, we know. But look at how much of it matches up between Facebook Messenger and Hangouts. Messenger has a couple permissions for its Chat Heads feature (draw over other apps and install shortcuts) that Hangouts doesn't, and Hangouts has NFC and Bluetooth permissions, and another one for some Google services, that Facebook lacks.

So what does it it all mean?

Facebook Messenger and Google Hangouts

Not that we really needed any more evidence, but it's pretty plain to see that Facebook Messenger doesn't declare an inordinate amount of permissions — in fact, Google Hangouts has two more, if you're worried about the plus or minus — not that the number of permissions an app declares is indicative of anything other than the app does a lot of things that requires permissions. Nor does Facebook Messenger declare anything that you wouldn't expect to see in a messaging app.

Permissions still are too often misunderstood, but they're getting better.

Using anything on the Internet requires some amount of trust. Permissions show you the broad scope of what an app can do. But, yes, you still must trust that it doesn't do something untoward within those boundaries. Most of us use web pages without watching the developer console or sniffing packets as they fly overhead. And there are still safety catches in place. Phones don't ship with root access. Phones don't ship with "allow installation of apps from unknown sources" checked by default. And if you want to plug in to a computer and have command line access, you're going to need to tick another checkbox and then approve the connection on your phone. And on the app side, we have Google checking not only apps in Google Play for malware, but (if you allow it) apps that have been sideloaded onto your phone.

We're going to continue to see misunderstandings about Android permissions. Some of that is stories that are just looking to cause trouble. But a lot of that also falls on Google's shoulders because of the dry, engineering sort of language used in the describing of the permissions. (Though it does look like Google has quietly removed some of the addition descriptions in permissions. Tapping one no longer pops up more dry language, and that in particular gets rid of the very misunderstood "at any time" clause for things like use of the camera and microphone.) Google will continue to improve and educate, and improve the way it explains things.

Phil Nickinson
  • And if you still don't like the permissions you can learn to install Cyanogenmod or a number of other custom roms that have AppOps baked in or install Xposed Framework AppOps and you can give individual apps as much or as little permissions as you like depending on how you use it. Since I only use FB Messenger to FB message the only permission enabled on my install is Write on Top of other applications...and the app works fine for me. :-)
  • This.
  • True and a good point, but for the 95% of low information users who have no idea what Xposed is, they probably need more of an explanation on this due to the media freakout.
  • Yea, I love it. I had the oneplus one which has it naked in and now I have if installed on my rooted g3. I love being able to block apps from certain things that aren't needed. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Had to do a article on it did you Phil? :) Posted via Nexus 7 2013 or Galaxy S5
  • We gave him permission.
  • Figure since I suggested folks should look at similar permissions, I should look at similar permissions.
  • Good idea. Though, from the readers point if view it may have helped with easier reading if you matched the similar permissions side by side, instead if leaving them in the order that they were. It doesn't matter to me what order they are in; rather, that I can very quickly and easily see the differences, instead of trying to hunt up and down the lists. I hope that piece of constructive criticism made sense.
  • Thought about that, but I figured it's better to show them as they were listed at the time. 50-50 call, I guess.
  • Six in one hand, half a dozen in the other, I guess.
  • Or you could compare them straight across for easy reading, and just number them out of order indicating the original listing order. As for the differences it makes sense. FB read the call log, more information to cross reference (example, they know you know the other person with a FB account, but don't have them friended). As for hangou'ts modify your contacts, that FB doesn't have. FB always wanted it only going one way. They got into it with Google a while back over that if you recall. And in the end of it all, does it really matter since anything not listed in each category can easily just be added and you'll still be told "No new permissions requested" (Or auto granted if using auto-updates) with the change to play services?
  • brilliant article.
  • Good, they need to improve the language and offer simple explanations. Trust is a funny thing, when Companies like Facebook do things that are questionable without those who are using their services knowledge then that trust is damaged and gives credence to those who want to fan the flames of conspiracy theories. Yes, most people know that they need to trust the app to be able to use it, but that doesn't mean it's okay for this site to blast those questioning these permissions when that Facebook has been guilty of destroying the same trust endowed by millions. Their little experiment showed that they are not to be trusted blindly as many people have done, and is a wake up call to all. I appreciate your efforts in educating members on what exactly these permissions are for, but, don't forget the real reason for the article to begin with. There's a old saying that is fitting on this. " When you are up to your butt in alligators, it's difficult to remember that the initial objective was to drain the swamp " Posted via Android Central App from my HTC M8
  • Though, I really don't see what questionable thing Facebook has done here. This is a storm in a glass of water created by media, simply because Facebook is a big and widely used internet thing (creating ad revenue to themselves). The only thing they could have done differently was asking Google to completely stop posting permissions for apps. As a reference. The government in Denmark has full read AND write access to every persons computer who's using online banking or government websites because of the way the Danish login security works and is managed on sites like that. Now, THAT is a huge privacy issue, still no one talks about it there.
  • Sorry guys but you are the ones who seem to be making a big deal out of this facebook messenger issue. While I'll admit that since I don't use facebook I have not payed that close attention to it. But the only place I have seen it mentioned outside an initial article is here. You have spent multiple postings on it and a large portion of podcasts on it. Just let it go.
  • We're not making a big deal out of it at all. We're explaining why it isn't a big deal, and why the stories that have tried to turn it into a big deal are wrong.
  • Don't you see that because of all the attention you give that you are making a big deal of it. I saw it mentioned for one day on a couple other sites over a week ago and that's it. Its the internet, people get in uproars for anything and then move on the next day. I like that you explain the permissions and why they are fine but nobody seems to care anymore except you guys.
  • This was more about the exercise of comparing permissions between two similar apps. It only makes sense to use an app that has recently been heavily criticized for the permissions it's declaring.
  • Although it's not all over the media still, I have seen several of my contacts on Facebook still running scared because permissions are so scary. I would have to argue that this site trying to explain permissions aren't as scary as they may seem is still relevant. And if it's not relevant to you, why did you bother clicking on it and then taking the time to comment on it?
  • So I could voice my opinion as an Android Central reader that they are dedicating too much time to an issue very few people are still up in arms over.
  • You absolutely could! (And I appreciate the feedback.) But I can way with certainty that people do care about this, and that it really hasn't taken up an inordinate amount of time, even if I wish we hadn't had to write these sort of permissions explainers in the first place. :)
  • "I saw it mentioned for one day on a couple other sites over a week ago and that's it." It's still getting plenty of attention elsewhere. Fortunately other places are taking up the debunking stance too, which is a plus. But it's still getting plenty of airtime all over the web: https://www.google.com/search?q=facebook+messenger&num=30&biw=1280&bih=5... Many, many, many new articles just in the last 3 days.
  • It's all about da clicks. Posted via Android Central App
  • No, it's really all about setting things straight. I think our time (well, mine, really) would have been better spent working on other things.
  • B-I-N-G-O!
  • Wrongo Posted via the Android Central App
  • Leave. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Even if that is one of the motivations, so what? You think Phil runs this site out of the kindness of his heart. It's okay to help folks out and make money at the same time. It's the basis of most of the US economy. Posted via Android Central App
  • I've seen plenty of ppl on FB freak out over messenger. Not everyone is technically sound so they are fooled easily. These explanations even helped me understand permissions better. Posted via Android Central App on The Nexus 5
  • it is a big deal because that rogue story (i think from huffington post) put the scare out there in the general public.) MANY of my Facebook friends uninstalled Messenger after they caught wind of the story. I had to help calm them down.
  • this was a bigger deal on the web way before ac even talked about it.
  • Still won't let the thing eat up my precious battery.
  • You guys are killing it with Facebook Messenger stories. And by killing it I mean the horse. And now you're beating it. Posted via Android Central App
  • I suggest you re-read the first five words of this story.
  • 2 words - Click Bait
  • Two words: please leave. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I think you guys are missing part of the point of what really has folks concerned. Facebook has a history of being less than upfront with what they are doing with personal info and streams, as well as a few occasions of being careless with that info. In isolation, which is what you've done here, the permissions are no big deal. Within the larger context of FB's approach to privacy and data, there's reason for concern. Posted via Android Central App
  • No, I think those are two very separate things.
  • You can think the sky is green if you like, that doesn't make it so. If you think the fuss over Facebooks permissions (and this is largely about FB as far as the public is concerned) isn't linked to FB's record of sloppy and manipulative use of user data then you're missing the forest for the trees. People are making a fuss over this because they don't trust Facebook. Posted via Android Central App
  • I think most of the stories you've read about this are incorrectly linking the two. Don't mistake my understanding of Facebook Messenger permissions for approval of Facebook in general.
  • +1000
    FB gets on my nerves with each update. Posted via Android Central App on The Nexus 5
  • Yup.... and it's not a far stretch that if they are dishonest on one account that they won't be dishonest on the rest. That is how the thought process works and why there is fear mongering at play here. It's one thing to dislike the fear mongering of all of this, but it's just as bad to downplay it as well, especially when the questionable practices of Facebook are the root cause of this. I find it disheartening that some type of stand by AC hasn't been made against these practices. Why is that? Are they afraid to speak out about it? Honesty is the corner stone of trust Posted via Android Central App from my HTC M8
  • Gonna need you to name some of these practices before we decide to "take a stand" against anything. :)
  • Are you serious? You know exactly what is being talked about here. You know as well as I know about their purposely running their little social experiment with it's users. Posted via Android Central App from my HTC M8
  • I've thought a lot about that, actually, and here's what I came up with: I'm not surprised. This
  • Good one....... So... Do you prefer Hangouts... Lol Posted via Android Central App from my HTC M8
  • Heh. I've got specific issues with each major service, actually. But on mobile? Yeah, Hangouts is probably best for me.
  • Cool. Sorry to make it seem I'm busting your chops on this, and I know you can't post here what you did there, but the trust thing needs to be expanded on. Should anyone trust them blindly? I hope you understand that (at least to me) it's not an "just because it's Facebook" mentality here. I'm an intelligent adult, and distrust anyone who skews the truth in any fashion , but I am objective enough to see for myself if there's facts behind the scenes involved, and then formulate my own personal opinion on the matter. I think the question of trust should be just as important as the explanation of the permission flap. What they did was wrong, and their stance was put back on the users giving their permission to them.... hence giving credence to the fan flaming and my posting that old saying earlier. On one hand your downplaying one side to support the other hand when in fact you should be acknowledging the trust factors instead of saying what you did over there. What they did is the cause of the article in question, even though it's purpose was to scare people needlessly as what you have implied.... but the question of trust has yet to be answered fully, at least to my satisfaction. Should we as a whole give blind trust to any of these social media groups that have skewed information or search results for their own experiments? Does giving a app any of these permissions constitute a right of the owner to feed false returns to the users? My opinion is no, it does not give them any rights to skew any data returned to the users of the application. Doing so only erodes any trust I had in them. This is directly related to the applications permissions issue and since you used them as a example of what they ask for in the permissions as such, to not acknowledge the reasons for the mistrust of them in the first place is a issue in its own making. Posted via Android Central App from my HTC M8
  • I think it's a big question we each have to ask ourselves. We all give a ton of data to any number of companies — and probably to a whole bunch of companies we never even think about in that sense. And there are plenty of legitimate arguments on all sides. If I'm relatively informed about what an app or service does, or what it can potentially do, and I choose to use it anyway because it makes my life easier or enriches it in some way, does that make me any better or worse than someone who worries about every little thing and stresses over it? To each his own, I think. (And this is something Jerry and I go back and forth on all the time.) I'm really not trying to tell anyone what to think about Facebook as a service and whether you should trust it. I just want folks to understand that app permissions in and of themselves are not bad things. More permissions isn't inherently worse. And in this case, Facebook Messenger and Google Hangouts share the vast majority of permissions. Does that mean you should trust Facebook less than Google? Or Google less than Facebook?
  • Here's another one of those old sayings Phil.... Fool me once,shame on you,fool me twice,shame on me. Apps are supposed to enrich our lives in some way,but does that mean they can do whatever they want,however they want,just because we have clicked approve. Putting the onus onto the users because they need to improve their services and somehow the fine print allows them to be dishonest should be shouted down,not just to shrug your shoulders. If you really want to educate people,then educate them on all aspects of what they are agreeing to so easily. Should we distrust Facebook over Google,that would depend if Google is doing the same thing with our permissions. If proven to be doing the same,then yes... The stand should be on the consumers side,unless you support any application owners in doing this. This is the trust issue...and why many people are worried about it. When does it stop? Facebook is saying with the permissions agreed to that they have every right to do whatever they want...and don't have to be transparent about this. This is what you are dodging here... Posted via Android Central App on my HTC M8
  • lol. Dodging? This post was about permissions. So we should be writing more about Facebook? :p
  • Weeeeelll let's see. Since a fear mongering article is the basis of your premise of the reasoning behind these articles...yes...let's discuss Facebook's stand on why they feel they are within their rights to run their little social experiment. You said here that you understand their reasoning behind it...do you agree that they are correct...given what permissions they ask for by the definitions you have given of what people are agreeing to when they click agree? I don't see anything in their tos saying that they can manipulate any returns of data or searches for any experiment...do you? Since we all have at one point just clicked I agree to use a service like this, wouldn't it be a good time to explain how you feel about this,in a manner more fitting than what you posted on that link. Did you or anyone you know agree to be part of this experiment of theirs.? Would you like to know that a experiment was on going? For myself I consider this an abuse of trust,not being asked for specific permissions outside of their stated permissions. See Phil your in a unique position here as you well know. You stated that there are2 separate things here,and there really isn't since you mentioned trust. Trust goes hand and hand with whoever's app we give theses permissions to,which is why a discussion about Facebook is needed in this. Where in their permissions for their application gives them the right to do what they did,and even though you understand what they did,do you believe that they are within their rights by the definitions of their stated permissions. Posted via Android Central App on my HTC M8
  • No, I was talking about I understand why they split off messaging. (Even though as a user I'm not crazy about it.) And the Facebook TOS is not the same as app permissions. Not at all. One governs parts of the system level of your phone or tablet that an app can access. That's it. The other governs Facebook as a service. You agree to the former when you install the app, and the latter when you log into Facebook. Don't like either? Don't install the app, and don't use the service. I don't blame anyone who's upset at their timeline being manipulated, but, again, I'm not surprised it happened.
  • Awesome answer bro So besides giving a spectacular explanation of just what the permissions are for,wouldn't this be an appropriate time to advise folks who don't bother reading the tos that there are app permissions and also the fine print that a site like Facebook has and that they may choose to do something entirely hinkey while they are utilizing there services... Your explanation was excellent btw of the permissions.... Posted via Android Central App on my HTC M8
  • Exactly. No one is holding a gun to your head forcing you to use social media. Have you ever heard of freedom of choice.
  • Yes this is true,however one has a reasonable right to expect honesty from any company who provides services too. This would be no different if Google searches returned false answers to any queries asked,then it was found out that they we're running a experiment with out your permission.......how would you feel about this? See it's one thing to ask you to participate in this as a control group,and another entirely to do this without and then for Google to say you gave consent by agreeing with some obscure tos . This is the issue,not that the permissions are at fault. The permission scare isn't what needs to be discussed Phil already did a bang up job,but has been instrumental into bringing up what the real issue is and what should be pointed out. That's the fly in the ointment for the fear mongering,and what I thought for sure would have been pointed out. Posted via Android Central App on my HTC M8
  • I knew what I was getting in to when I bought an Android phone, especially the Nexus 5. I was buying a phone that was tied into Google and I knew I would be sharing a lot of my information with Google. I knew Hangouts was the messenger app I would be using for texts and more and I knew what to expect with contact management. I did not however buy a Facebook phone. I do not want Facebook accessing my text messages, it's none of their business. For something as simple as Facebook messaging it asks for too many permissions. My problem has nothing to do with comparing one app to another, it's how much access to my phone and my personal information that I want to share with Facebook.
  • Rather than focus solely on the permissions when comparing these apps a better article might focus on the features as well. Hangouts can do one critical thing that the Facebook app can't, and that is to send a traditional sms text, which is the only way to send a text to someone that isn't using the same app/service as you. In my humble opinion that makes Hangouts the winner in this comparison. Of course in my case I've actually uninstalled Hangouts as well, and gone back to the old stock Android messaging app. So I am a bit biased in preferring core functionality without all the fluff. Posted via Android Central App
  • I see what you're trying to say, but FB Messenger indeed can send a traditional SMS text. Thus the permissions.
  • i have a android mobile with fb messenger installed, i dont see the sms feature which you are pointing out
  • The Facebook message app can send SMS. Posted via Android Central App
  • how?
  • Please elaborate, because they removed the feature. Posted via Android Central App
  • I have simple question..Hangouts has permission to access (read write modify SMS) because text messaging module is integrated in it and you can use it as a default app for text messaging . But why does Facebook messenger need that permission??
  • Well done Phil. 
  • I have found that the people who need to read these types of articles don't. When I had a Facebook account, I posted articles like this frequently. The same two or three people always responded, and they were the ones who didn't need to read it in the first place. The hysteria people generated over such issues, as presented on my Facebook news feed, was one of the reasons I deleted Facebook eight months ago. Maybe I had the wrong friends but I do not miss Facebook. And no, I didn't intend for this to sound like a smug piece about me not being a part of Facebook. I'm just relating my opinion and experience. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I think you're right — and that's all the more reason I think publications (and the occasional commenter) could do a better job educating instead of ignoring the problem because they get it and others don't.
  • @Phil - can you pls explain where i can see option to use FB messenger as default SMS app. if there is no option why does FB need that permission ?
  • I don't believe you can set it as the default SMS app. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong there — cause I'm not giving FB my phone number anytime soon.) But that's not the same thing as being able to send an SMS.
  • An older version of FB messenger use to let you integrate it with your SMS, but I don't see it in the settings any more.
  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't you already give them your number?
    -Read your own contact card
    -Read call log
    -Read phone status and identity Not sure but I thought at least one of these had access to your phone's number. Side note, I know you have the www.androidcentral.com/look-application-permissions article, but maybe you could do a refresher or have some listing that breaks down exactly everything a permission has and could access to a paranoid level. For example "edit your text messages (SMS or MMS)" although extremely unlikely can be used for receiving a sms and then deleting it without your knowledge. For the people that say, because it has access to the info, it doesn't mean they are harvesting it. With Facebook's history, I and may others believe if FB has access to it, they already grabbed it and are holding onto it. As other articles have noted, they never delete stuff, they just add a deleted note to to the database so it appears as if it was deleted on the site.
  • Would like to see a comparison between Facebook + Messanger & other similar apps. instead of just the permission explanation would love to see how many time it wakes up the phone, how much juice it takes in a given time, how much ram it utilizes, and how much data it transfers. To many these are probably the things people would learn to care about now that many phones out there are getting older but are using newer apps.
  • Seems like quite a few articles in defence of Facebook messenger, is this motivated by a feeling of injustice or has there been any sponsored or encouraged posts from Facebook? For what it is worth the permissions I don't have a problem with if they are system requirements. However I think apps should ask for as few as is possible and that they could be better explained or described. Permissions are not my issue with Facebook Messenger, I deleted it because it forced me to download a separate app which is clumsy and annoying (having 2 apps) On top of that it is a separate app which did not allow me to turn off notifications - so I switched to the mobile website and use Facebook a lot less as a result.
  • Explaining and defending are two very different things. We're doing the former.
  • They are. So is that confirming that there has been no contact between Facebook and androidcentral on this? Feedback from the outside looking in as a daily reader - it seems to have gone past investigation and explanation and into the realms of a campaign. Whether that is optical or reality it is worth taking into consideration.
  • Wow. Just ... wow. There has been no contact between Facebook and AC on this.
  • That's fine, it was just a question. Rather than being surprised by the question you could consider why it was asked. If you don't want the feedback fine but it seems from some of the comments I have read that I am not the only one surprised about the number of articles written on this subject. It was worth an article...maybe with a follow up, any more than that and questions and misconceptions start to appear...just feedback, take it or leave it - but in an era of huge PR and sponsored posts on even the smallest of blogs, it isn't an unreasonable conclusion. Like I said, I am daily reader and like the site and content a lot. I don't think I have ever posted before but this is what motivated me to post and ask the question...a focus group of one...maybe!...but do with it what you will.
  • Heh. I do appreciate the feedback. But consider that we've published 324 stories so far this month — 177 between Aug. 8 (when we pubbed the first story on the permissions) and today — and all of five stories have been about FB Messenger. I don't think that's an inordinate amount. Do you?
  • I think that guy's coco puffs are getting soggy, Phil.....
  • End of the day. If you don't want it or don't like the permissions. Don't use it. Posted via the Android Central App
  • this.
  • I still don't know anyone that uses Hangouts. Posted via Android Central App
  • lots ppl i know uses Hangouts.
  • Let's see Google release the numbers. Posted via Android Central App
  • Really? I call shenanigans!
  • Great article Phil! Prior to reading I would have assumed that Google Hangouts would have had similar or more permissions enabled. I mean it's Google for goodness sakes! They make their money off of advertising, which is significantly more accurate with greater amounts of data,. Not saying it's malicious. Just self-serving. I would love to see this kind of breakdown VS other commonly used messenger apps (like WhatsApp, BBM, Snapchat, Kik, etc). Should make for an interesting read.
  • Who has any idea if the new facebook messenger could be set as an SMS replacement app
  • People may not mind all the permission stuff if you had a way to choose individually. On iOS, i'm asked to allow access to GPS, Contacts, Photos, etc. That's what I'd like to see on Android. I stop using some apps because they want to use my GPS and I don't have a choice. The PayPal app is a good example. They want to use my GPS to show my surrounding stores that accept PayPal. I don't care about those stores, others might. Therefore, give me the choice to use my GPS or not.
  • Yes, this should be baked into Android. But if you really care you can at least root your device and enable App Ops to get some control over these permissions on a per app basis. And if you want really really fine grained control over permissions you can install the XPrivacy Xposed module. Posted via Android Central App
  • No surprise, I mean it's Google and Facebook we're talking about here. There should have been more messenger apps that offer similar services compared to these two data leeches.
  • My problem (and many others) with the app is not so much the permissions. It's the requirement of installing another app that isn't needed because the Facebook app already had the feature included.
  • I was wondering what the similarities were. Nice post.
  • I have no desire to use FB as an everyday texting app. I just wanted to keep the ability to respond to messages from people I don't want to have my personal info. I don't use Hangouts either.
  • I believe all the hullabaloo, which I haven't really seen the "debunkers" address is that both of these apps (and several others) have the verbiage "this permission allows the app to use the camera/mic at any time **without your confirmation**." This means they COULD spy on you if they wanted to. Anyone want to address that clause?
  • We've talked about that before, I think, and I addressed it again here. There's absolutely some trust involved, and you'll no longer find that "at any time" clause listed. (That's bad for transparency, I think, but good for keeping folks from misunderstanding what it really means.)
  • What's to address? Yes, they could use it to spy on you. When installing apps you do have to trust that they won't abuse permissions they request. Does that really need to be spelled out? I don't trust Facebook, so I don't use it at all, let alone install their apps. Posted via Android Central App
  • Was wondering why media is making a false impression and who is gonna explain it clearly? Just found the answer!
    Was even gonna write my own thread about it :3
  • Thank you Phil people need to see this. Posted via Android Central App
  • Phil, that clause is still on my Galaxy S5 in the appropriate apps. You are right - there is an element of trust with that, as well as with MANY other online functions in life. Email anyone? Completely unsecured, and yet we trust our life stories to it. I believe Google would do better to rephrase that permission, maybe even spelling out what functionality that permission allows. e.g. one cannot have voice activation without the mic on all the time. It would be nice if they made such always-on functionality optional, to where the other, less nefarious instances of that permission's usage were ties to user interaction, where the user would naturally expect the mic/camera to be used. Nobody complains about using the voice recorder, or video camera - but that's because they initiate the function.
  • Weird. Maybe that's where I saw it. Been bouncing between a lot of phones lately. Will have to check again.
  • By the way, and I wanted to be sure to point this out separately: I think there's some really good discussion going on there. We don't all agree on all this — and I think that's a good thing. I also think it's a good thing we're talking about it here, and I'm surprised I haven't seen more sites doing so. This is important stuff.
  • The only thing this article means to me is: Why does Android Central care *SO MUCH* about Facebook? Why are you beating a dead horse? I personally do not want 3 FB apps (FB, Messenger, Pages Manager) on my phone that suck the life out of my battery. I prefer to use my browser now. Also, Hangouts will continue to be my SMS/MMS client of choice.
  • We don't. (In fact, I'm pretty sure more of us on the editorial side aren't exactly big fans of Facebook.) What we do care about is the discussion about permissions not being "ZOMG HERE IS THIS APP THAT HAS PERMISSIONS THAT CAN DO THINGS!!! THE SAME THINGS AS ALL THESE OTHER APPS THAT ARE PROBABLY OK, TOO!!! KILL IT DEAD!!!"
  • I don't see the reactionary KILL IT WITH FIRE mentality, but I travel more in the atheist/humanist/skeptic circles with my podcast. All I know is, a few months ago, FB used 1 resource gobbling app. Now, there are 3 of them. That's enough for me to drop the apps and just use Chrome. And, yes, the app permissions are reasonable... even with the bad science expiriments they did on people's feeds a while back.
  • Exactly! And I get why Facebook is doing it. Doesn't meant I like it either, though.
  • Stop making sense, Phil. This is the Internet; that sort of thing is frowned on here.
  • Double post
  • My problem with Facebook is they, at least in my experience, tend to use your information for evil. I'm more trusting with Google than I am with them.
  • Agreed
  • Hangouts is a better IM for me.
    But Facebook Messenger, in my opinion, is the best VoIP app in Android. Hangouts lost VoIP ability after migrating from Google Talk. Now you need to make a stupid video call and switch to earpiece, this is ridiculous, incoming/outgoing video still enabled and the proximity sensor does not turn off the screen even on a Google Nexus 5. (It just changes the background to BLACK). In Facebook Messenger, you select a contact, you press the "blue phone", and you have a great VoIP call over WiFi or LTE (with less than 30ms). And the proximity sensors is working fine, shutting down the led back panel, just like the truly Android's Phone.apk
    Disadvantages: The FBM VoIP demands more bandwidth than other services (Viber) and if you don't have a decent internet you are screwed. Constant rating appearing. A direct dial widget would be nice. If your destination had closed the FBM using the "Recent Apps" menu, he will appear offline since he killed the process.
  • For the record, I don't use Google Hangouts either.
  • Good article. Can you do an article on why Facebook is doing away with the ability to message from the regular Facebook app? Just what I need two resource hungry apps eating up my limited ram. Its not nice for us low end/mid end smartphone users.
  • The easiest answer I can think of is it means more chances for more people to use Facebook services. I guess it also could be looked at that it means if you don't use Facebook Messenger, you won't need it clunking up your phone.
  • Maybe I missed it... What is their reasoning behind having 3 apps where there was just one? Does FB still dogfood their coders like they used to when the Android app first came out? FB Home tried to take over your UI and was an utter flop... Now they are aiming at taking over *all* of your messaging instead. Not a conspiracy. I just don't like their poor excuse for apps so I won't eat their dogfood for them... Again, Chrome and Hangouts works great. And, I save a lot of time not getting alerts from BF all the time! =)
  • " when Google Voice gets folded in." LOL. Surely you jest! The forgotten bastard child that is Google Voice will not enter the fold. All the "evidence" are teasers of things not to be.
  • There's not a problem. Facebook only did experiments through their app without people knowing. It's all good!
  • Appreciate the article. Good information to know. Posted via Android Central App
  • The biggest difference though is that you couldn't trust Facebook and it's founder further than you could throw him, google I'm okay with.
  • The only people crying are those ignorant enough not to realize that using anything that isn't your own requires some form of sacrifice. AC App via Nexus 5
  • None of that explanation sweetens the deal for me. Uninstalling Facebook Messenger is instant peace of mind. Interestingly though, the terms and services for Facebook Messenger are not at all intrusive on my Lumia 920. Only on my android.
  • I never set up Hangouts for the same reason I never installed FB Messenger. Thanks for the justification.
  • Here's the PROBLEM!!! Facebook is NOT Google! And facebook asks for A LOT MORE than you showed. Those were only the basics any messenger app needs to function. Google already has every permission if you use most of their apps.which are considerable. The main PROBLEM is all the hidden permissions you aren't showing. "Mypermissions" app,(in playstore) shows ALL permissions,and it is twice as long as what you showed. Facebook wants to track all your phone activities,just to use THEIR messenging app. There were close to THIRTH permissions that app wanted!! That's way more than comparable apps. Other messenger apps who are NOT Google,only ask what's needed to operate,and NOT follow me to serve me "relevant ads" This is something we expect from Google,and they offer a whole lot more in return. So now maybe all you Facebook apologist will STOP telling us,"we're over reacting" For those of us who know a bit more about facebooks app permissions, they go TOO FAR !!! Posted via the Android Central App