Afternoon Aug. 4, 2014 Update: Facebook says Messenger asks for similar permissions that other messaging systems ask for and that some of the confusion about its permission requests comes from the language Android's operating system uses to describe these permissions.
App developers are not able to control how the permission requests are described.
When a person downloads and installs any app, the app must ask for permissions all at once before a person can start using the app. Users must give their approval for those permissions to be able to run products in the app and make the apps work.
Facebook says the Android operating system controls how the permissions are named and how they're worded and that the language the Android operating system uses doesn't necessarily reflect the way each app uses them.
App developers don't have a say in how permissions are explained when the permissions are explained to users.
For example, any app that uses the device camera or microphone for its functionality needs to ask the user permission "take pictures/videos" and "record audio."
Facebook says that one permission Messenger specifically asks for reads "Allow the app to record audio with microphone. This permission allows the app to record audio at any time without your confirmation." Messenger uses this permission to enable features such as voice calls, the ability to record and send voice clips, to include sound with videos - all of which require the use of the device's microphone.
Many of these permission requests are standard for other apps, specifically messaging apps, such as Snapchat, Line, and Skype.
For more on this over-arching issue of Android permissions, please see: https://www.facebook.com/help/210676372433246
Morning Aug. 4, 2014 story: For those that blindly click "accept" when they download a new app it might be time to actually read the terms of service for Facebook Messenger.
Facebook is in the process of moving messenging out of its regular app to its Facebook Messenger app.
Adland points out the following items in the Facebook Messenger terms of service that people might want to consider before downloading or keeping the app:
- Facebook Messenger can change the state of network connectivity. Bye bye airplane mode, whenever it fancies.
- It can call numbers without you prompting it to. Like E.T. phoning home, who knows what sort of charges it can create for your phone bill.
- Facebook Messenger can send SMS messages.
- Facebook Messenger app can record audio with the microphone. This permission allows the app to record audio at any time without your confirmation. Creepy!
- Facebook Messenger can take pictures and video with your phones camera. The permissions allows it to do so without your intervention.
- Facebook Messenger can get a list of accounts known by the phone. This may include any accounts created by applications you have installed, your gmail, yahoo and whatever other email you may use. All those other messenger apps you use to be a little private on are now known by facebook, so if you're trying to keep your flirty grindr or tinder info away from your other social services, you've just given that up.
- Facebook Messenger app can read all data about calls on your phones, including the frequency and length of calls, allowing it to gather information about whom you communicate with most. Hi mom!
- Facebook Messenger app can access all phone data, including knowing your phone number and device IDs, whether a call is active, and the remote number connected by a call. People who call you and don't have messenger app are now listed as your pals in the messenger app, thanks for leaking my phone number to facebook you guys.
- The Facebook Messenger app can access and save your call log data, any malicious app on FB now knows who you call, when, how often and so on.
Facebook has not released a statement regarding the Facebook Messenger privacy concerns.