CREDIT: Adam Peck/ ThinkProgress
Users have been denouncing the Facebook’s forced migration to the Messenger app for private conversations since the company announced the move in May. But the seemingly creepy terms to which consumers must agree — such as letting the app make unauthorized calls — has sparked outrage over privacy concerns. And Facebook isn’t taking the blame.
For over a week, Facebook has been pushing users to download the new standalone Messenger app because it is getting rid of the feature in its regular application. Some users were notified that their in-app message function was disabled, and had to download the new app if they wanted to use the private chat service.
But Messenger’s user agreement terms for Android-run devices were seen by many as increasingly invasive and yet another way Facebook was making privacy rights irrelevant. Some of the questionable terms include permitting the app to make calls without the user’s knowledge, take pictures, and record audio and video at any time. The app also reserves the right to scroll through users’ contacts and call logs, as well as glean personal information stored on the mobile devices including data stored in other apps.
However, the social network says its not responsible for the mobile app’s liberal access terms; those came straight from Google. According to a Facebook post on the matter, the company isn’t allowed to write its own privacy terms for Android users.
“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 wrote.
Facebook claims it has more freedom to shape policies for Apple’s mobile platform. So far, the app has reached over 4 million Android downloads and hit number one in the iTunes store, while racking up thousands of bad reviews.
One Android user wrote, “Deleting this sh*t Can’t believe fb made me download this infringement on my personal privacy. No way am I keeping this on my tablet after its told me to agree to letting it take audio and video at whatever time? WHAT.”
Backlash against the app’s terms is just the latest privacy controversy Facebook has had to manage. The social network admitted in June that it performed psychological experiments on users by manipulating their timelines. News of the experiments, which tried to alter users’ moods based on what they read, incited public furor over the company’s continuous push of privacy boundaries.
Moreover, Facebook and other tech companies have been under pressure to tighten their privacy policies domestically and abroad in the wake of former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s document leaks in 2013. Facebook is currently dueling with European lawmakers, and awaiting a European Union court to rule whether the company broke privacy laws when it gave the NSA access to German citizens’ profiles.