Archive for August, 2014

Is Facebook Messenger as “Insidious” as Writer claims?
August 4, 2014

Check out my 6 o’clock story by clicking here. At the time of this post, a Huffington Post article listing all of the seemingly probing permissions required by Facebook’s Messenger app has more than 100,000 shares. It definitely got our attention in the newsroom. Why would an app need to turn your phone’s camera on and off? Thousands of people have called it “creepy” and claim they won’t install Messenger. Here is what I learned by asking a few questions:

  • The Play Store where Android users get apps requires permissions for everything an app may need to do to use all of its features… even if you never intend to use them all.

For example, one of the features of Facebook Messenger allows you to send video and voice-recorded messages to your friends or contacts. To do that, obviously the app will need to use your phone’s camera and microphone.

  • The App Store where iPhone users download apps lets you install an app… and then it pushes permission requests to you when it actually needs them.

In this instance, if you never wanted to make a video message, the app  may never ask you for permission to use your camera. If you did try to make a video message, you’d get the permission request… and it would make sense to you WHY the phone was requesting to turn on your camera. Facebook’s Jillian Stefanki told me app developers are well aware of the difference in permission requests sent to Android users and iPhone users. They know that the long list of permissions Android users see (if they bother to read them) seem “creepy;” but the list of all of the cool things the app can do is just as long. Developers would like to add language to the fine print that explains to users why they want certain permissions. So far, that hasn’t been permitted. I haven’t downloaded Messenger yet. I am still deciding if I will. I do use direct messaging on my phone frequently to try and contact people for stories while I am not sitting in front of a computer. Are you using the app? What do you think about it?

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