Facebook Messenger app sparks privacy concerns

Published: Aug. 21, 2014 at 2:58 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 21, 2014 at 11:58 AM CDT
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Amarillo, TX - Facebook is now forcing mobile users to download a separate application if they want to communicate with friends through private messages.

The Facebook Messenger app promises to enhance users ability to communicate with friends, but in order to use it you have to give Facebook access to an alarming amount of features on your phone.

For Android users, the app's installation requires you allow access to a long list of your phone's features. This includes access to your phone's calendar, contact list, GPS location, camera, and microphone.

The terms also say Facebook can access your text messages and call log and that charges may apply.

"The terms of service of the messenger application say that they can use the microphone or your contacts and gain access to that without your intervention," explained All Star Computer Services owner Andrew Brandt. "That sounds kind of scary, but in fact what it means is that you can make a phone call from the app or you can message someone from the app and it won't have to ask you every time, hey can we use your microphone or hey, can we have access to your contacts."

Facebook posted the reason for all the permissions for Android users on their messenger help page. "Almost all apps need certain permissions to run on Android, and we use these permissions to run features in the app. Keep in mind that Android controls the way the permissions are named, and the way they're named doesn't necessarily reflect the way the Messenger app and other apps use them," explained Facebook.

For iPhones, the app's terms of service agreement is a little different. iPhone users can pick and choose which features they want the app to have access to before the installation is completed. "That's because Facebook integration is actually built into the iO7 operating system, whereas it's a third party add-on for Android," said Brandt.

Facebook is receiving a lot of flack for the new app, but they are not the first app to request some questionable features on your phone. "When you really get into it and how the application accesses information on your phone, you see that it's really par for the course for all other applications that use this kind of technology," added Brandt.

If you download the messenger app on an iPhone or an Android, you can always go to your privacy settings afterwards and manually choose which features you want the app, or any apps for that matter, to have access to.

Madison Alewel - NewsChannel 10