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Why Facebook wants to hack your phone and how to avoid it

Facebook wants to hack your phone and take over your life. Not really, but that’s what people have been fearing recently since the Big Blue made some changes to its instant messaging app, Messenger. Mobile users are now forced to send messages using a secondary app. Not only is this an annoying peeve, some have expressed complete outrage against some of the app’s terms and conditions.

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As we’ve seen before, whenever the giant social network makes a change, there are those who complain as they tear at their keyboards. People don’t like change, even when it’s done on a free platform.

The list of terms and conditions complaints are quite long, people have been most upset by the fact that Facebook Messenger wants to access your smartphone’s microphone and camera. Android users were the first to pick up the scent that something’s fishy.

This is what the app permissions look like on Android:

Facebook has even come out and said that it’s somewhere between a semantic and an Android issue:

“Almost all apps need certain permissions to run on Android, and we use these permissions to run features in the app. Keep in mind that Android controls the way the permissions are named, and the way they’re named doesn’t necessarily reflect the way the Messenger app and other apps use them.”

Facebook zoomed in on the T&Cs and explained them as follows:

  • Take pictures and videos: This permission allows you to take photos and videos within the Messenger app to easily send to your friends and other contacts.
  • Record audio: This permission allows you to send voice messages, make free voice calls, and send videos within Messenger.
  • Directly call phone numbers: This permission allows you to call a Messenger contact by tapping on the person’s phone number, found in a menu within your message thread with the person.
  • Receive text messages (SMS): If you add a phone number to your Messenger account, this allows you to confirm your phone number by finding the confirmation code that we send via text message.
  • Read your contacts: This permission allows you to add your phone contacts as Messenger contacts if you choose to do so. You can always stop syncing your phone contacts by going to your Messenger settings.

Luckily for the paranoid not swayed by Facebook, there’s a workaround. Though not ideal, it might help die-hard traditionalists keep their peace a little bit.

You can use your mobile browser instead. Create a bookmark of the Facebook mobile site so that it’s just a tap away on your smartphone’s home screen. Just Google “Facebook” on your phone or go to, tap browser settings, and look for the save or bookmark option. The web version has the messaging feature at the top next to your friend requests and notifications.

Meanwhile, Google’s working on solving the Android app permissions issues with its future operating system Android L.

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