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Big Brother is watching you! Part 2: ...and you are allowing it.

Kawela Mule's picture
Facebook decided to join the ranks of chat applications by creating one like WhatsApp, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) or WeChat called Facebook Messenger. However, this app comes with security costs that we (users) have allowed.
Joni Lindes wrote about Facebook Messenger last week on her blog iTalk entitled “Facebook is Not a Cool Mom” and how they have forced users to download the free application if they expected to message their friends via Facebook. Using an application like this, suggests that we agree to certain terms and conditions that could infringe on our privacy rights.
The Facebook Messenger App requires you to allow them permission to use large amounts of personal data and in fact have direct control over your mobile phone according to an article written by Sam Fiorella. Facebook announced that they would be phasing out the in-app chat feature on Facebook which would require their over 200,000 million monthly users to download the separate app and make use of that instead.
Following their $19 billion purchase of WhatsApp, the use of Facebook Messenger has me wondering if they are trying to have two competing chat applications under their ownership.
Here are a few facts you may have had wrong about Facebook Messenger App and their security conditions.

1.   Facebook can listen to your audio files

They require access to your microphone so that you can record voice notes or use it for video conferencing. Therefore, Facebook can use your mic to listen to what music, television programs and video you may be listening to if your audio recognition is turned on.

2.       Facebook retrieves a copy of your contact list and can read your text messages

Facebook will have access to your contact list to sync that with your Messenger users in case you have non Facebook friends who make use of Messenger. However you won’t see these synced contacts unless they also have your number.
Facebook can also have access to your texts messages for verification purposes. The application will automatically scan your text messages to find this verification code.

3.   Facebook can track your location

For Android users Facebook automatically uses your approximate location when you send a message to people. Your friend can actually check from where you are sending your message.
However, both Android and iPhone users can turn some of these notifications off but iOS users have more leeway in terms of what they can allow Facebook Messenger to access.
Even though we might want to point fingers and shout surveillance, we also need to remember that we allow these terms and conditions. The problem is that we all do not have time to read all the terms and conditions that come with every application. According to a podcast by ABCRN Download This Show a statistic mentioned that if we were to read very term and condition of our applications it would take up to “250 hours per year for the average person”.


Even though Facebook is not going to rush out and expose your personal information and private chats, users need to be aware that most smart phone applications demand similar permissions to that of Facebook Messenger.