Facebook is no stranger to controversy, least of all in recent weeks. Changes to the user interface are often unpopular, yet more than a billion people continue to use the network regularly. The most recent change? Facebook has decided to remove messages from its flagship apps to push users towards its stand-alone messaging app. So was this a good idea, or a bad one?
This change has been on the horizon for months, with Facebook telling users to get ready to upgrade — which many have resisted and are now angry about. Unlike Twitter or Instagram’s direct messages, Facebook’s messages have always been a core part of the service. Pushing mobile users away from the main mobile app doesn’t seem to be going down well.
“I was perfectly happy with the Facebook mobile app, as it satisfied my needs perfectly. What I did not need was a whole other app that literally does nothing the previous app couldn’t do, nags me to allow push notifications (not happening) every time I try to use it, and ultimately just takes up more space on my phone,” said one review of the app, as quoted by Business Insider.
Many users also cite invasive permissions as their reason for not wanting the new app, but according to Daily Dot contributor Mike Wehner, it’s all a big misunderstanding. Wehner, and Facebook itself, explained that the permissions sound ominous because of the Play Store’s wording for permissions, not because the app will be secretly recording audio or making phone calls without user input.
Users are understandably hesitant to grant Facebook more permission to invade their privacy, given the company’s alleged participation in PRISM, and the possibility of smartphone spying. To say that Facebook does not have a good track record when it comes to transparency is an understatement.
Regardless of user complaints, this could be seen as a savvy business move for Facebook. The messaging app market is growing in a big way, and the company would be foolish to ignore that. If the company is able to leverage its core user base by pushing them to their messaging app, there’s the potential for Facebook to dominate the market.
Still, it seems that users aren’t that interested in having Facebook splintered into multiple experiences. The platform may be on top of the social media world, but it looks increasingly like the company doesn’t know what to do what to do next.