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Facebook Messenger: Why There’s Nothing To Fear

Personal security became a hot topic when Facebook announced in April 2014 that it would remove the capability to send private messages using the Facebook Mobile app. Users must download the Facebook Messenger app in order to send messages to other people on Facebook from their mobile devices.

The general backlash ensued; Facebook was making changes again, users didn’t like that they had to download a new app, and they certainly didn’t like that they were being “forced” to download a new app to simply send a Facebook message.

Privacy was at the forefront of user concerns. In December of 2013, The Huffington Post published an article entitled, “The Insidiousness of Facebook Messenger’s Android Mobile App Permissions,” stating that the app would have “direct control over your mobile device.”

The article was shared all over the web, fueling the fire and causing many users to worry that Facebook might have the ability to send messages to other people on the user’s behalf, read personal emails, and record audio or video clips of the user.

The reality is that Facebook Messenger has no more control over your device than Facebook Mobile, and Facebook will not know anymore about you than it already does.

The problem lies in the way Android users see requests to access their devices’ features; the app requests permission to access the user’s microphone, camera, contact information, location, and a number of other pieces of information. Apple users experience the app differently. The app requests permission to use these features only when necessary.

Here are some of the other things about Facebook Messenger that many users may not know:

  • Facebook Messenger is not new. Mobile users have had access to the app since 2011. In recent months, the app gained more and more features, allowing it to be its own standalone app.
  • Facebook Messenger, like any website or app, can use your data for advertising purposes and to maximize your overall user satisfaction.
  • Though Facebook Messenger asks permission, users do not have to keep these settings on. Contact syncing, location services, and other common settings can be turned off at any time.
  • Facebook Messenger now offers much more than simply sending a message to a Facebook friend. Voice calling, sending photos, and sending videos with sound are part of the app’s capabilities. The app includes a more organized and user-friendly interface, and syncs well with the Facebook Mobile app.

Privacy concerns should not be taken lightly, and it’s important to be wary of threats to your personal information. However, Facebook Messenger’s Privacy and Terms of Service are not different from its counterparts. There truly is nothing to fear by downloading Facebook Messenger onto your phone.

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