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By Nick Brazzi | Friday, August 22, 2014

Facebook Messenger: Understanding Privacy Settings


Earlier this month, Facebook made a move that sparked lots of controversy on the Internet. That’s a statement that’s been made about many Facebook moves over the years. But this time we’re talking about Facebook Messenger—a handy little smartphone app that gives users access to Facebook messages.

Facebook messages are private, like email or chat messages; they can only be seen by the people involved in, and invited to, the conversation. So messages are very different from public wall posts and status updates.

The Facebook Messenger app has been around for a while. Justin Seeley covered it very well in his Up and Running with Facebook course. What’s changed is that Facebook has made the move to require all users of the Facebook smartphone app to switch to Facebook Messenger to access messages. That means the only way to work with Facebook messages on an iPhone or Android is to install and use the Facebook Messenger app. But that’s only half of the story.

The big controversy centers around the long list of app permissions that users must agree to before installing the Messenger app—permissions that some feel are too invasive.


For example, the Android version of the messenger app requires that users grant permissions to edit and read your text messages, modify or delete the contents of your USB storage, record audio, directly call phone numbers, access your approximate and precise location, and much more. Some people insist that these terms are normal and benign, while others argue that Facebook will have the ability to exploit private data if users agree to them.

Regardless of which side of the debate you fall on, I want to show you how to enable and disable some of these app permissions. For example, if you do not allow Facebook Messenger to link to your phone number, the app will not be able to make phone calls or send SMS messages. And you can manually adjust location settings—which represent the most controversial issue—after installing the app.

If you’re worried about installing the Facebook Messenger app, watch our video and see how you can adjust your settings to alleviate your concerns.

Keep in mind that some of the permissions required by the Messenger app are not user-adjustable—and the options are different from one phone to the next. iOS, for example, gives users more control over enabling and disabling certain permissions after an app has been installed.

On a Google Nexus 5 phone, the following permissions are not adjustable:

• Storage

• Other Application UI

• System tools (Install shortcuts)

• Microphone • Camera

• Your Personal Information (Read your own contact card)

• Your Social information

• Audio Settings

• Sync Settings

• Affects Battery

• Run at Startup

It’s also worth noting that SMS and phone call permissions can only be circumvented by declining to link a phone number when first installing the app.

If you are not comfortable granting the permissions listed above, you can always decline to install the Messenger app, or remove it from your device if you’ve already installed it. You can also read up on Facebook’s policies around collected user data.


By Justin Seeley | Thursday, November 14, 2013

Facebook updates its Messenger app: what you need to know

What's new in Facebook Messenger 3.0.

Learn more about Facebook Messenger 3.0

Facebook has just released an update to its standalone messaging app, and the changes are significant. The app has been completely redesigned for both iOS and Android platforms and boasts many aesthetic and functionality changes as well.

Aside from the new look, the biggest change is the ability to message people who aren’t among your Facebook friends. This is contingent on whether you allow the app to access your phone number and/or contacts list; if you allow it, others will be able to message you directly, regardless of whether they are on your list of friends, and you’ll be able to do the same.

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