Facebook Messenger App: Rampant Rumors ‘Aren’t True,’ Company Claims

September 1, 2014 Updated: September 3, 2014

Facebook’s Messenger, which has a very low rating on iTunes, has been mostly panned by users, who have claimed that it invades their privacy, is annoying, or is just unnecessary.

The social media giant has attempt to do damage control recently in response to the anger expressed by users

“You might have heard the rumors going around about the Messenger app,” Facebook wrote in a statement. “Some have claimed that the app is always using your phone’s camera and microphone to see and hear what you’re doing. These reports aren’t true, and many have been corrected. Still, we want to address some concerns you might have.”

It adds: “How we actually use the camera and microphone—Like most other apps, we request permission to run certain features, such as making calls and sending photos, videos or voice messages. If you want to send a selfie to a friend, the app needs permission to turn on your phone’s camera and capture that photo. We don’t turn on your camera or microphone when you aren’t using the app.”

Facebook then elaborated on why it wants users to download the Messenger app.

“Why we’re asking people to install Messenger—We’re committed to providing a fast, reliable and fun messaging app that anyone in the world can use to reach the people who matter to them. That’s why we’re focusing just on Messenger and moving messages out of the Facebook app. People usually respond about 20% faster when they have Messenger, and we think they’ll find both apps useful in different ways. We hope you’ll try out Messenger and enjoy everything else you can do with the app, like chatting with groups and sending stickers,” it said.

Here’s The Associated Press’ update on myths about the App:

—Myth: You have to use the Messenger app if you want to send messages to your Facebook friends.

—Reality: While it’s required to download if you are using Facebook’s mobile app on the iPhone or Android smartphones, you can avoid it if use the Facebook messenger service on your desktop or laptop, iPad or even the mobile Facebook website.

—Myth: The Facebook Messenger app’s terms of service are different from —and more intrusive than—Facebook’s own official terms.

—Reality: Facebook’s terms of service are the same for all its mobile apps, including the main Facebook app. You can read it here: m.facebook.com/policies. What’s upsetting people is the list of “permissions” they see when they download and install the app on an Android phone. It’s a long list with 10 items, each of which states that the app needs access to features on your phone including contacts, calendar, location data and Wi-Fi information. Sure, that’s a lot of personal data. But it’s the same data most messaging apps have access to. On the iPhone, users don’t get the list of permissions when they install the app, but when they use it, permissions pop up individually. You can view the app’s list of permissions here:https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.facebook.orca . Click “view details” under Permissions.

—Myth: Facebook’s Messenger app will use your phone’s microphone to record you.

—Reality: The app needs permission to use your phone’s microphone and camera. But it requires that access because the microphone is needed for voice calling, a service that the standalone app offers that theFacebook app doesn’t, and sending sound with videos. Same with the camera, it needs access if you want to send your friends pictures.

—Myth: Facebook will direct the app to send SMS, or text, messages without your permission.

—Reality: One of the permissions does say that Facebook can edit, receive, read and send SMS messages. But the company says the reason it wants to send and receive SMS messages is so that if you add a phone number to your Messenger account, you can confirm by a confirmation code that Facebook sends via text message.

—Myth: The Messenger app is new.

—Reality: Facebook’s Messenger app has been around since 2011. In April, it started requiring that users in Europe download and install the app if they wish to send messages to Facebook friends. Two weeks ago, the company said it would expand the requirement to other parts of the world. Facebook says it’s forcing users to make the switch because a standalone app offers more features. For example, the app is faster, it offers a selfie cam, stickers and can be used to reach people on your contact list who are not Facebook users.
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