Facebook messenger App raises users privacy concern.



     On last month( August 2014), All Facebook mobile user was given a message which requires them to download the Facebook messenger application, separated from Facebook mobile, otherwise they would not be able to use messaging function in Facebook mobile. This application asks a permission to access several user’s private areas, contact list, calendar and phone memory for instance. This requirement causes many criticism from a number of users.

Here is the list of requirement that the application asks for permission to access.

1. Identity ( Find and read contact in your device)

2. Contacts/Calendar (Read you contact)

3. Location (Identify your location on network based or GPS network based)

4. SMS (Be able to edit, read, receive and send you text message, including SMS and MMS)

5. Phone (Be able to directly call phone number and read phone log)

6. Camera/Microphone (Be able to take a picture and video, and record audio)

7. Wi-Fi connection information (View Wi-Fi connection)

8. Device ID&Call Information (Be able to read device status and ID)

9. Other

     You can see full detail of requirement here http://bit.ly/1ssyF9y (For Android). However, I have to say sorry for iPhone user that I can’t access to Term&Agreement of this application on iOS platform.

     This application offends many users by the reason that it intervenes user personal area, Personally identifying information(PII). This is an information that can be used to identify and individual, for example contact list and location. People believe that Facebook would collect this information and sell it to business companies or government organisations. Furthermore, the issue is exaggerated by user’s belief that their SMS and MMS can be accessed and edited, their devices can be hacked and call to somebody, and their device camera can be activated without their permission. Users concerning are driven by anxiety.

     On the other hands, Facebook announced their explanation toward this concerning. Firstly, about requirement on android platform, it mentioned that this requirement, which is used by almost android application, does not reflect the way Facebook do. Secondly, All these required permission would enhance features in the application and create the best experience for users. For example the application access to user’s contact list in order to allows users to add their phone contact as messenger contact.

     This concerning is heightened by leaked information about NSA surveillance program on last year, consumer’s trust toward Facebook is reduced. On june 2013, Edward Snowden released the information that american people, and other countries, are observed by NSA surveillance program. This phenomenon also provoked privacy concern toward several giant technology companies, which is including Facebook. Despite an effort to declare that they prioritise user privacy trust toward brand is in danger.


     This issue, however, may not strongly impact a number of Facebook user. Many people are concerning about privacy of their online information. Many people are, on the other hands, still disclosing their personal information on social media, especially teenagers who don’t perceive this issue as a problem. This situation is called privacy paradox. Facebook, hence, may be affected by this problem, but the damage may not be considerable.

     Facebook messenger application, which mobile users are forced to install, raises privacy on many Facebook users. They concern about Term&Agreement of this application which requires a permission to access personal area of users, contact list for instance. Even Facebook attempts to explain the appropriate reason to its users, user’s attitude still be difficult to change. Nevertheless, this issue does not cause severe damage to Facebook, by the reason of privacy paradox.

Pasit Sararueangpong