The recent uproar over the Facebook messenger application may, in Shakespeare’s words, be much ado about nothing. Most people probably have a friend or two who are adamantly opposed to social media of any kind. For others, Facebook is a part of their daily routine but the new permissions required for the messenger application have some Facebook users upset. Die-hard Facebook fans became a little concerned when they realized that getting messages using the new messenger app was going to require signing away their right to privacy.
The upset began when word began to circulate about the permissions required to keep using the message feature of Facebook. Of course, users were pleased to hear that there are some new and improved features including the ability to have group conversations and make free phone calls. People like “new and improved” but they do not tend to take kindly to being forced to grant permission for an application to access their camera, their call log or their text messages and that is just the beginning of the new permissions requirements.
According to Facebook, these are Android requirements. Some others include allowing access to contact information, location and even calendars. Downloading the messenger app will also require users to give permission for file downloads and even phone calls from the users’ device. Inquiring minds might be interested to know that Apple IOS users and Microsoft phone users will not be required to grant all of these permissions. They can still use the messenger app but they can allow or not allow access in each of these areas as they so desire. The all or nothing requirement is specific to android.
With all the fuss about violations of privacy, many “Facers” have considered not downloading the new app. Before taking that hard stance and especially if the uproar over the forced downloading of the new messenger application turns out to be much ado about nothing, grumpy Facebook users may want to consider a few facts. While these privacy permissions may seem a little excessive, they really are not all that different from the permissions granted to other apps.
The reason most people are alarmed is because most people do not actually take the time to read all the permissions. According to a recent Washington Post article, it would take about 250 hours a year for the average person to read all the fine print and terms and conditions type agreements that consumers contend with on a daily basis. It is no wonder that few people actually read this important information. Even when required to scroll down in order to accept or agree, most people do just that, scroll down to the bottom and click the appropriate button without having read a word.
The other thing Facebook users might consider before deciding against messenger is the fact that granting permission for a certain action does not necessarily mean the action will be taken. Some of these permissions, in fact, have legitimate reasons. For instance, before a picture can be sent, the app has to access the camera. It makes sense when thought about from that perspective. It also makes sense for users to get all the facts, to take the time to read the information and make an informed decision. Each user is then, in fact, qualified to determine for themselves if there is a legitimate reason to abstain from using the Facebook messenger application or if the uproar is much ado about nothing.
By Constance Spruill