Do you ever sign a lengthy contract without reading it? Of course not, you say, and I'll call you a liar. Every time you click "accept" on those terms of services without reading it, you just agreed to a contract. So what did you just agree to let that Facebook Messenger App, downloaded over a billion times already, can do on your phone?
- 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.
The blatant privacy violations that one billion people just agreed to here make for a bleak future. If you think it's ok that an app can record your conversations or video at any time without you initiating it, but freak out about the NSA, I don't even know where to begin. The cognitive dissonance displayed by those who love free as in apps, but seemingly hate as in privacy is amazing. Your first step in cleaning up your phone is deleting this app, and then reading the TOS of any other apps you use to make sure that you're comfortable with the level of privacy you're giving up in exchange for an app. I'd go so far as to say delete your facebook account too, but I know you won't.
Of course, all of this data is collected to make advertising more targeted in the end, but hand on your heart at what point did you ever see a facebook ad that was something you cared for? Do you think more info to facebook will ever make that better?
Update: I feel that it's important to note that iOS sandboxing makes some of these things impossible to do, such as make calls, without throwing an OS prompt up on the screen, but also that this is the terms of service you agreed to which you frankly shouldn't, even if how iOS works protects you from some aspects of it. You're agreeing to it, and that's what this article is about.