There seems to be a lot of kerfuffle and whatnot about the privacy concerns of the Facebook Messenger App on Android phones going on at the moment. Mainly it seems to be fuelled by this piece of shitehawk “journalism” by the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-fiorella/the-insidiousness-of-face_b_4365645.html
Please bear in mind that The Huffington Post is owned by AOL, who have a long-standing mardy about Facebook.
So, what are the concerns? Well allegedly Facebook can spy on you constantly, use your phone to send text messages and make calls, yada yada yada be evil. Here is a screencap of the entire list (from that site – taken 13/01/2015)
Notice how it is in text format, and not a screencap. Now, there is a screencap of the current permissions (actually its two screencaps stitched together…
Should you be scared that it can access your microphone and camera?
Firstly, due to the way Android handles permissions, you have to allow access to things all the time for an App to work. iOS does it differently, only requesting access as and when it is needed. So on an Android device you have to agree in advance to let it use your camera, but on an iPhone you can opt to use the App but not let it access the camera. I know which model is better, but I am never, ever, EVER going to make any public statement that I agree with anything that Apple have done. Blame Bono for that.
Secondly, do you really know what all those permissions mean? No? Well I’m going to tell you. With pictures. Try not to fall asleep at the back!
Starting at the top…
- “directly call phone numbers” – well you know that bit in the App where you can telephone people? Have a guess why it needs to do this.
- “read phone status and identity” – well the two come bundled together. It has to know about your phone and whether ot not you are on a call or not just so that it doesn’t fire up and bombard you with voice calls from Dickhead Dave while you are trying to order a pizza.
I’ll lump all the above into one. The app (yeah bollocks to capitalisation now) allows you to send and revieve SMS/MMS messages. So it needs to be allowed to do just that.
You know how you want to do that chatty with live video and sound? Just try to work out why the app needs to use your camera and microphone.
Just like Facebook posts, messages say where you are. If you don’t like it, turn Locations off in your device settings.
You want to contact people don’t you? No? Oh just delete the app, get rid of Facebook entirely, and go and live in a cave. You could always use Google+.
Hang on, why does it read the call log? Maybe, just maybe, its so that when you start a new conversation it will prioritise those contact’s names in the list as you ham-fistly bash at the screen with your knuckle trying to spell N I C K.
Really, have a guess on this one. Did you go with “so it knows who I am”? Yes? Well you’re not having a prize.
Want to save that pic of a dog in Darth Vader costume that Alan The Muppet just sent you? Well you’ll need this.
The same goes for if you want to send your home-made pornographic version of “The Wrong Trousers” to someone.
Do you want to connect Facebook to your Twitter, Instagram, Swarm, etc accounts?
Right… so here we go…
- “change network connectivity” – this basically allows the app to determine if you actually have a valid connection or not. Its a badly worded phrase in the Android permissions list really. Panic Not.
- “download files without notifications” – Do you really want to have to agree to see every picture that you are sent?
- “full network access” – It is a communications app. It will need it.
- “receive data from internet” – How do you think message are received.
- “view network connections/ view Wi-Fi connections” – bundled in with the above “change network connectivity”
Can we guess this one?
This is just so that Chatheads can piss you off by floating on your screen in the most inconvenient place possible.
- “control vibration” – buzz your phone if it is on silent
- “prevent tablet from sleeping” – keep the screen turned on if the app is active
- “change your audio settings” – actually is should be called “check your audio settings”. It is used to determine whether your device buzzes or bings.
Well it does need to know if the contacts list is synced and up to date or not.
“install shortcuts” allows the app to put those really annoying “Chatheads” on your home screen,
“send sticky broadcast” – this is where it all gets a bit complicated.
A “sticky broadcast” is a parcel of information concerning your identity, location. recent activity, blood pressure, IQ, heart rate, and whether or not you smell of almonds. It is broadcast to the CIA, MI5, Mossad, WASP, Interpol and the ISPF.
Or, it could just be a method of inter-process communtication.
So thats that. Nothing sinster going on at all. Whats more sinister is that Google track your every move and action, that you’ve agreed to this, and furthermore seem quite happy about it.