There may be reasons not to install Facebook Messenger App but permission should not be one of them

My own research confirms that the Facebook Messenger app for Android actually request one permission less than the main Facebook Android app.

messengerFacebook has begun splitting out messenger from the main Facebook app. Although Facebook Messenger has been available for many months, Facebook began notifying users this week that the chat feature will be phased out and the only way to receive Facebook messages will be to install the Facebook Messenger app.

Anything Facebook does is usually accompanied by a slew of misinformation. In this case, the Internet is abuzz with talk of insidious and over reaching permission requests, much of it attributed to this article posted last year by Sam Fiorella. But as the Washington Post points out in this article by Caitlin Dewey, Facebook Messenger App is no more invasive than any other app.

My own research confirms that the Facebook Messenger app for Android actually request one permission fewer than the main Facebook Android app. So if you are already using the Facebook app, you reveal nothing new in adding the Facebook Messenger app.

There may be reasons you may not want to install Facebook Messenger but privacy and permission should not be one of them if you already use the Facebook app. As to why Facebook wants to break out Messenger, I can only speculate that breaking out Messenger gives them the ability to develop this app much more quickly and efficiently without affecting the main Facebook app. The mobile market is moving toward messenger services such as WhatsApp which Facebook bought in February 2014 for a staggering 16 billion.

For those who use Facebook Messenger much more than Facebook, having a dedicated app will use fewer resources which should translate to better battery life, lower cpu usage, and faster response times.

What can you do if you don’t want to allow these permissions? Well you can still use Facebook on your mobile browser. Just uninstall the Facebook apps and you’re good to go. Of course, you’ll lose many of the features like full integration with your phone.

To see a list of Facebook Android App permissions, go to Google Play, search for the Facebook App and click the green install/installed button. To see a list of Facebook Messenger Android App permissions, go to Google Play, search for Facebook Messenger and click the green install/installed button.

 

Facebook Android App Permissions Facebook Messenger Android App Permissions
Device & app history:Allows the app to view one or more of: information about activity on the device, which apps are running, browsing history and bookmarks
Identity:Uses one or more of: accounts on the device, profile data Identity:Uses one or more of: accounts on the device, profile data
Contacts/Calendar:Uses one or more of: calendar, contact information Contacts/Calendar:Uses one or more of: calendar, contact information
Location:Uses the device’s location Location:Uses the device’s location
SMS:Uses one or more of: SMS, MMS. Charges may apply. SMS:Uses one or more of: SMS, MMS. Charges may apply.
Phone:Uses one or more of: phone, call log. Charges may apply. Phone:Uses one or more of: phone, call log. Charges may apply.
Photos/Media/Files:Uses one or more of: files on the device such as images, videos, or audio, the device’s external storage Photos/Media/Files:Uses one or more of: files on the device such as images, videos, or audio, the device’s external storage
Camera/Microphone:Uses one or more of: camera(s), microphone(s) Camera/Microphone:Uses one or more of: camera(s), microphone(s)
Wi-Fi connection information:Allows the app to view information about Wi-Fi networking, such as whether Wi-Fi is enabled and names of connected Wi-Fi devices Wi-Fi connection information:Allows the app to view information about Wi-Fi networking, such as whether Wi-Fi is enabled and names of connected Wi-Fi devices
Device ID & call information:Allows the app to determine the phone number and device IDs, whether a call is active, and the remote number connected by a call Device ID & call information:Allows the app to determine the phone number and device IDs, whether a call is active, and the remote number connected by a call
 Facebook Android App Permissions  Facebook Messenger Android App Permissions

 

Facebook rolling out https secure browsing site wide and testing instant photo upload for iOS 6 users

Facebook users may see two new features rolling out in the near future. One adds much needed security while the other may potentially be a threat to your privacy.

Facebook users may see two new features rolling out in the near future. One adds much needed security while the other may potentially be a threat to your privacy.

298px-Internet2HTTPS secure browsing

HTTPS browsing has been an opt in feature for Facebook users since early 2011 when Firesheep was released into the wild and it only worked on some parts of the site. Soon, North American Facebook users will have HTTPS browsing turned on as a default with the option to turn it off for those who want to see a slight performance boost. With HTTPS browsing enabled, the traffic is encrypted on the client prior to transmission over Wi-Fi thus preventing someone snooping on the Wi-Fi signal from seeing the data. It’s standard for all financial sites and has been standard on Gmail for years. Facebook faced many technical challenges in implementing this technology for it’s nearly 1 billion users but they managed to adjust their load balancing techniques to allow secure browsing with minimal performance degradation. Continue reading “Facebook rolling out https secure browsing site wide and testing instant photo upload for iOS 6 users”

Google + vs Facebook: A comparison

By now, many have no doubt heard the buzz created by Google for Google +, their latest attempt at social networking. Google pulled out and dusted off the old “you need to be invited” marketing trick. It’s gone public but for now, you still need to be invited due to “insane demand” according to Google.

By now, many have no doubt heard the buzz created by Google for Google +,  their latest attempt at social networking. Google pulled out and dusted off the old “you need to be invited” marketing trick. It’s gone public but for now, you still need to be invited due to “insane demand” according to Google. This is not the first time Google has tried their hand at social networking. They failed with Google Buzz, Google Wave, and Google Orkut is only relevant in Brazil and India. Nobody knows how this venture will fair since Facebook has such a huge head start. Google certainly has their work cut out for them. Continue reading “Google + vs Facebook: A comparison”

Facebook rolls out secure browsing as an opt in only feature

Three months after Firesheep was released into the wild, Facebook has began rolling out secure end to end https encryption as an opt in only feature for users. Secure https browsing vastly increases user security by encrypting traffic at the browser level preventing packet sniffing while members use unsecured wireless connection such as those found at coffee shops.

FacebookThree months after Firesheep was released into the wild, Facebook has began rolling out secure end to end https encryption as an opt in only feature for users. Secure https browsing vastly increases user security by encrypting traffic at the browser level preventing packet sniffing while members use unsecured wireless connection such as those found at coffee shops. Continue reading “Facebook rolls out secure browsing as an opt in only feature”

Facebook wants to share your phone number and address with third party applications

Palo Alto based Facebook announced on Friday in their developer blog that they are now making a user’s address and mobile phone number accessible as part of the User Graph object. In plain language, this means your phone number and address may be shared with third party apps if you so choose. Jeff Bowen wrote in the blog

Because this is sensitive information, we have created the new user_address and user_mobile_phone permissions. These permissions must be explicitly granted to your application by the user via our standard permissions dialogs.

Facebook app to share private info
Facebook's request to share your phone and address with apps

Many who use Facebook apps are familiar with the request for permission screen. A new entry has been added to allow the app to “access my private contact information”. Note that many web apps have no need for your address and phone number and will probably not ask for it. It is more likely to be used by merchant apps such as ebay marketplace where there would be a valid reason for passing on this information. Your address and phone number will not be shared with existing apps so you will not have to modify those.

In any case, users should pay attention to what private information they are sharing on Facebook as this new feature has the potential to be a telemarketer’s dream.

Facebook tries to reinvent email. Don’t toss your email just yet.

The new Facebook email will integrate email with chat and sms messaging. It will determine reply methods based on online status and other criterion so to limit potentially expensive sms messaging fees.

Many have tried to revolutionize email and have failed. Even Google with all their resources failed to turn Goggle Wave in to an email killer.  So users are stuck with an antiquated system from the 70’s. Little has changed since those pioneering days. You still have the basic format of From: To: Subject: & Msg body. Once you give out your email, you have little control over who can send you spam. Continue reading “Facebook tries to reinvent email. Don’t toss your email just yet.”

An in depth look at Facebook’s new photo service and interview with Sam Odio

Pixel dimension is only one measure of image quality. Other important factors include jpg compression level and color space. Based on testing, Facebook recompresses all images regardless of upload size.

In this Facebook blog post, Sam Odio, product manager for Facebook photos writes “we also wanted to give people on Facebook the best quality photo product on the web.” But is it really the best on the web?

Pixel dimension is only one measure of image quality. Other important factors include jpg compression level and color space. Based on testing, Facebook recompresses all images regardless of upload size. A 466 x 700 pixel test image was uploaded with exif and IPTC data intact. The original size is 101 KB. 700 pixel is well within Facebook’s current size limit of 720 pixels so there is no need to downsize it. The downloaded version of the image is the same size but all the exif and IPTC data has been removed and it has been recompressed to 89 KB. Photographers often embed copyright data in the IPTC field and some courts have ruled the existence of such data is sufficient to serve as copyright notice. Therefore, the removal of such identifying information has serious consequences to any copyright holder in enforcing a claim against someone who may try to claim innocent infringement. A look at the National Geographic’s album with high resolution images point to the same results. The images do not contain any exif or IPTC data. Continue reading “An in depth look at Facebook’s new photo service and interview with Sam Odio”