Facebook Messenger And Ways To Avoid Chatheads
by Jo Shaer, on August 12, 2014
I hate Facebook Messenger. And I hate the fact that Facebook force me to install it as an app on my mobile phone if I want to view any of the private messages that are sent to me.
They show the little number above the envelope but, when I try to click and view, I am unable to see the message unless I download Facebook Messenger.
Facebook make it sound like it's nothing to worry about.
But I am getting more and more worried about these apps which purport to be helpful whilst trying to access my personal life.
Why so antsy about Facebook Messenger, Jo?
Well, apart from the fact that I hate it when I am MADE to do something and given no choice, Facebook Messenger then starts to take over your phone. It adds little pictures of people who have sent you messages to screens that are not related to social media. Apparently, these are called Chat Heads.
Yes, I know you can switch chat heads off. But it's still Facebook taking over parts of my phone where they have no right to be.
But also, I hate Facebook Messenger because of the privacy issues. Before installing it, I was asked to agree to a lot of permissions that I don't fully understand. That makes me uncomfortable. I don't like apps period because of permissions. You cannot retrospectively withdraw permission to use information they have gleaned prior to your uninstalling any app - unless you get in touch with the developers direct.
My previous concerns were as nothing to the alarm I felt when I saw that I was now giving the app access to my camera and microphone. In the light of earlier issues with Facebook wanting to be able to recognise background sounds so they could attach feelings and behaviour to our status updates.
For example, I post a status update on my mobile and Facebook can hear Game of Thrones playing in the background so it adds something about me watching Game of Thrones. If I wanted people to know what I was watching, I would tell them. I don't need Facebook to do it for me automatically!
Are we over reacting to privacy issues with apps?
However, this article from Mashable explains that I may be over reacting to the permissions issue. I was interested to see how they would explain away the need for camera and microphone access.
Apparently it is asking for the ability to take pictures and video and record audio so that we can send photos to other users from within Facebook and record audio messages. Without the ability to record audio, our videos would be silent. OK, that doesn't sound so bad. But I can't help feeling it's just another stream of information that Facebook are tapping into so they can put more adverts in front of me.
And then I saw this part about granting permission for the app to access my Contacts/Calendars. It's asking for permission to read my contacts. But my contacts where? On my actual phone? Excuse me but that is linked directly to my Google contacts list which means you have access to everyone in my email inbox?
Why do Facebook need this? This will let you send a message to someone already in your address book. To do that, the app needs permission to access your contacts. But doesn't that mean that you get access to their private email addresses. I already declined to give you access to my email contacts via my PC. Is this a sneaky way in through the back door?
Is there a way to avoid using Facebook Messenger?
Well, this helpful post from Cyberactive Services suggests that there is. You can avoid using the private message service altogether if you go into Timeline and Tagging in your settings and set Who Can See What Others Post On Your Timeline ton 'Only Me'.
If you encourage your friends to do this too then any message that they post directly onto your timeline will only be seen by the two of you. It, effectively, becomes a private message. There is one caveat. They should not tag the person whose timeline is being posted on because the privacy settings allow these to also be seen by friends of friends.