Much of the paranoia is fueled by a Huffington Post story from November 2013, as well as a post by a radio station in Houston — both written to stoke fear within Facebook users.
While Facebook Messenger on Android does ask for several permissions that seem privacy-invasive, these actions cannot happen without manual user action. Facebook Messenger will not call people on your behalf or alter your network for Mark Zuckerberg’s benefit.
So why does it all seem so invasive? Mashable has an amazing post breaking down every single permission the Messenger app asks for, explaining why the app needs them.
A Facebook spokesperson said that the permissions for Facebook Messenger haven’t changed since app first launched. The story points out that Google Play permissions can be scary and convoluted.
But why is Facebook doing this in the first place? Facebook wants to make the main app faster by removing a core component — messaging — and moving it into a separate app. By having a Facebook app free of messages, it can run and load faster. By having all messaging components within Messenger, it makes the messaging experience that much faster.
Mashable explained why these permissions seem so scary:
From time to time, Facebook requests more permissions from the system to perform certain tasks. Generally, the company explains why those permissions are being requested.
Nothing that Facebook is requesting for Facebook Messenger is new. If you installed the app last year, you’ve approved all of these permissions already.
We can argue about whether users should be able to approve certain permissions individually — and that’s a good discussion to have. But that is up to Google, not Facebook. When it comes to Android app permissions, Facebook has to play by Google’s rules.
Readers: Will you install Facebook Messenger?