PARANOIA: Facebook Messenger is not spying on you

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We should all be aware of what we’re signing up for when we accept Terms of Service agreements for websites and apps. We should be concerned about how much of our otherwise private data they can access, track, store, and distribute. We could start by not giving websites and apps so much of that “private” data, but that’s another subject entirely. However, an article from the Huffington Post has crossed the line and sparked online paranoia and fears that Facebook’s standalone Messenger app (now mandatory if you want to use the service’s private messages on mobile) is stealing all your data, even using your phone’s camera and microphone to record you without your knowledge or permission.

There is a lot of ignorance in general about what app permissions do. Yes, it does sound scary for an app to request for the ability to “call phone numbers without your intervention”! But probably only until you realize that app has a phone calling feature that needs that permission to operate. That’s exactly what’s going on here. HuffPo’s article (from December 2013!) has compiled a list of permissions that correspond to features most people don’t realize their FB Messenger has. The journalistic pros at the Post (a marketing consultant wrote the article) don’t even attempt to inquire as to why the app would need these specific permissions.

So allow me to explain, line by line:

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