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Facebook is NOT a “cool mom”

Joni Lindes's picture

Facebook is facing what seems like a mid-life crisis. Instead of sticking to the share and like button, Facebook continually tries to imitate popular young, new mobile apps like Instagram, Snapchat and now WhatsApp. Unfortunately the “cool mom” persona leaves most kids with bright red faces, and hiding in embarrassment.  Facebook Camera and Facebook poke, both attempts to imitate Instagram and Snapchat, have fast become extinct on app stores. Now, Facebook is telling us to either “get cool or get out” by forcing us to download the new Facebook Messenger.

Since April 2014, Facebook mobile app users, after clicking on their messages icon, have been alerted of the new, faster, Facebook messaging app Messenger. Two weeks ago, they were prevented from viewing their messages on their Facebook Mobile Apps until they downloaded the app.

The app allows users to sync their contacts on their phone with Facebook messenger to their Facebook messenger contact list. It alerts users of incoming messages by a distinct sound a bubble head popping up on their phone’s home screen.

Besides syncing contacts, the app has no new features distinguishing it from messages in Facebook, despite it being slightly more user-friendly with faster access to messages. Many consider the app to merely be a waste of memory space.

The app is ranked as the number 1 download in the app store, but it only has a one star rating. The high downloads come from Facebook forcing users to download it so they can see theirmessages. The reviews, however, have been less than flattering.

“I don't like that we were forced to get this, and I've heard this is NOT good for your phone it’s pretty dangerous. And it sucks we are losing touch with our Facebook friends because we can't message anymore,” said Kayla Meija.

To make matters worse, Huffington Post released an article saying that the Messenger app requires you to give Facebook access to your photos, camera, messages and GPS in order to download the app. This can allow Facebook to read your messages, look through your photos and send messages on your behalf. The allegations have since been proved untrue as the permissions were incorrectly compared the app's Terms of Service to its Android-specific permissions language. The permissions language it originally used has since been updated by Google.

Although largely false, these allegations had an alarming effect on the popularity of the Messenger app with many people believing it is hampering their privacy. Most of the negative reviews on the apps tore were about security concerns.

One user, Charlotte Charles called it an intrusion. “I installed it just to read a message then uninstalled. Don’t like the fact they can listen in on me or record what I am doing through my cameras. Too much fb.”

Twitter has also not been kind as the app meets many negative reviews.

 

Users have tweeted a “cheat code” to view Facebook messages without installing the app.

The Messenger app, however unpopular, is an important operation at Facebook.

I think it’s an attempt for Facebook to access the trend in personal messaging allowed by services like WhatsApp. Facebook brought WhatsApp earlier this year for $19 billion in order to corner this market. 

Facebook aims for people to recognise it as different from the normal Facebook messaging service by using light blue colours and a new logo. Facebook, just like the eager-to-relive-her-youth mother, needs to be reminded that just because something is “new” and “on trend” does not necessarily mean it is popular.