facebook and privacy

Being part of social media sites has many social benefits. Especially for someone like me that live abroad and need a way to stay in touch with friends through interactive communication tools, such as Facebook. However, I have realized that it doesn’t come for free or without risks.

The other day when I was on my phone looking through my Facebook messages it suddenly asked me if I wanted to download the new Messenger app. The app is beneficial as the users can access their messages quicker and easier. It all sounds good, however, the permissions Messenger wants in return sound pretty ominous. The terms of use make it look as if Facebook can use the Messenger app to copy your address book, send email and text messages to your contacts without your knowledge, and even use your smartphone’s camera and mic to spy on you.

My first thought when I realized this was “But wait, what? Can they really do this?” Well yes, the permissions requests may seem very broad, but there is a reason behind them, and as a matter of fact it is exactly what other apps are requesting too.

Facebook has a help page that details each of the permission requests and why those requests are being made;

Using your smartphone’s camera and microphone This isn’t a move to spy on what you’re saying, listen in on conversations, or secretly capture photos and video of whatever you’re doing. Messenger needs these permissions to access the camera and mic when you snap photos or video in-app, and to record audio messages or make in-app voice calls.

Calling phone numbers Facebook doesn’t have any plans to cold call your friends with targeted ads. Messenger needs your OK to dial if you ever tap a friend’s phone number in-app so it can initiate the call.

Text messaging Messenger needs permission to send you text messages because adding a phone number to your account requires a verification system. Sending you an SMS message is how that happens.

Address book access Facebook doesn’t want access to your contacts so it can send your friends ads. Granting Messenger access to your contacts simply lets you access contact information from within the app.

We already knew that Facebook did not value our privacy but the new app is giving Facebook even more information about you which they did not already have. They collect from your personal life, you can block access to your iPhone’s microphone, camera, and more, by launching the Settings app and tapping Privacy. However, if you’re uber-paranoid, maybe it’s time to delete the apps from your iPhone.

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“What happens on social media stays on Google forever.” ― Unknown

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