The Facebook Messenger backlash: Reviewers flock to complain as experts raise concerns about its privacy controls
Facebook announced it was splitting its messaging service in April
The changes have begun rolling out to users worldwide
Annoyed members have flocked to app stores to complain
Experts have also raised concerns about the app’s privacy controls
Android permissions give Facebook access to send texts and make calls
Facebook responded with a blog post assuring users their data isn't at risk
+3 Facebook announced it was splitting its messaging services (Messenger app pictured) in April, and the changes have begun rolling out to users worldwide
Facebook has begun forcing people to use Messenger after announcing its split for the main app in April.
Members have been left annoyed and outraged by the changes, and have flocked to the Android app store Google Play to complain.
This is in addition to concerns being raised about the app’s permissions, that give Facebook access to send texts and make calls on the user’s device.
According to Google Play, the app has access to find accounts on the device, read contacts, access the user’s, as well as edit, read and receive text messages.
Other permissions give Facebook the ability to directly call phone numbers, modify or delete files on USB storage, take pictures and videos, record audio, download files without notification, control vibration and change network connectivity.
This has led to user’s complaining the app violates their privacy.
Earlier this week, the app was averaging a one-star rating on the Play Store, but has since risen to 4.1 – this is despite 90 per cent of the first 100 reviews rating it as low as possible.
Reviews on the store include: ‘I DO NOT want this messenger. Seriously. Why is Facebook forcing this on everyone? This application sucks. Bigtime.’
Another reads: ‘Why does it need to have access to your phone data, audio, USB files, and network when you're not even using it. Oh and it can listen to your conversations and turn on your camera/recorder even when you're not using it. Uninstalling immediately. Big brother!’
One reviewer said: ‘I like Messenger, I just hope it’s not true what they are saying that it's not private anymore.’
And another added: ‘Calm down people! Of course it needs access to your camera, how else would it allow you to take and send pictures and videos through the app.’
'However, the current situation goes too far. It's time we stood up and said "no!" Take the first step by deleting this app.' facebook recently responded with a blog post explaining why it needs certain permissions.
It said: ‘Almost all apps need certain permissions to run on Android, and we use these permissions to run features in the app.
‘Keep in mind that Android controls the way the permissions are named, and the way they’re named doesn’t necessarily reflect the way the Messenger app and other apps use them.’
+3Users have been left annoyed and outraged at the changes, and have flocked to app stores to complain. Experts have also raised concerns about the vast number of permissions the app asks for on the Android versions (pictured). These give Facebook access to send texts, make calls , access USB storage and more
FACEBOOK MESSENGER ANDROID APP PERMISSIONSFind accounts on the device.
Read your own contact card.
Read your contacts.
Your approximate and precise location.
Edit, receive and read your text messages.
Directly call phone numbers.
Read call log.
Test access to protected storage.
Modify or delete the contents of your USB storage.
Take pictures and videos.
View Wi-Fi connections.
Read phone status and identity.
Receive data from internet.
Download files without notification.
Run at startup.
Prevent device from sleeping.
View network connections.
Change your audio settings.
Read Google service configuration.
Draw over other apps.
Full network access.
Read sync settings.
For example, it states that the picture and video permissions allow users to take photos and recordings within the app, and send to friends.
It wants access to text messages to let people add mobile numbers using confirmation codes.
Facebook’s ‘call phone numbers’ permissions means people can call a contact from within a message thread.
Jack Kent, principal mobile analyst at IHS Technology told MailOnline that these permissions apply to Facebook’s main app, and many of them are standard for social media apps of this kind.
He added the permissions Facebook is asking for are needed for the app to be able to work in the way its users want.
‘If you’re going to add voicecalls at some point, you’ll need to access and sync your contacts.
‘If you want to take photos, the app will need access to your gallery. These are needed, however Facebook probably could have communicated this better.’
Other users have complained as to why iOS permissions aren’t so comprehensive, but this is due to the way the two different operating systems work.
Android automatically asks for permissions for all the actions the app is likely to take now, or in the future. By comparison, Apple software checks permissions on a task-by-task basis.
Facebook Messenger isn’t new, it originally launched in 2011. When asked why Facebook decided to separate its apps, Mr Kent said:
‘Facebook split the app so it could have a dedicated messenger app. This reduces the different ways in which Facebook has to handle message in its standard app.
'Voice calling has been ramping up, and by separating the apps, Facebook can make this feature available. It would be too cumbersome to add to the standard app.
'This also makes voicecalling easier to deploy in other countries.
‘With a portfolio of apps, there’s more room to manoeuvre; you don’t have to use Facebook anymore.
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+3Earlier this week, the app was averaging a one-star rating on the Play Store, but has since risen to 4.1 (pictured) This is despite 90 per cent of the first 100 reviews rating it as low as possible. Reviews on the store include: 'I DO NOT want this messenger. Why is Facebook forcing this on everyone? This application sucks'
Facebook recently responded with a blog post (pictured) explaining why it needs certain permissions: ‘Almost all apps need certain permissions to run on Android, and we use these permissions to run features in the app. Keep in mind that Android controls the way the permissions are named' said the social network site
For users annoyed with the change, there is an alternative way to use Facebook messages, by accessing them through a mobile browser (pictured)
‘Facebook doesn’t always get it right, though, it tried to launch a dedicated phone and home launcher, and they really didn’t get a positive response.’
Analyst Brian Blau, research director of Consumer Technology and Markets at Gartner added: ‘As with most changes that Facebook makes, users are typically not happy in the beginning and they don’t understand the motivations as to why the changes are being made.
‘And, as with most changes we see from Facebook users will accept the change and just move on.
‘This issue probably won’t impact Facebook over the long term.'
For users annoyed with the change, there is currently an alternative way to use Facebook messages, by accessing the site through a mobile browser.
This lets users access and responded to messages without using the Messenger app.