The Truth About the Facebook Messenger App and Your Privacy

Facebook Messenger App Privacy

Chances are that if you use Facebook today (and those chances are high because Facebook just passed over 2.6 billion monthly active users), you have heard all the hype about the Facebook Messenger App and concerns over Facebook Messenger privacy.

To start off the whole fiasco in 2014, users were forced to download the separate Facebook Messenger App if they wanted to use messaging through the Facebook app itself for mobile. This started causing Facebook users to be leary. Why? Because the Facebook Messenger app asked for access to a lot more permissions than the average app and, let’s be honest, the permissions are a little frightening when you start looking into them (more on that below).

Then, in early 2018, the Facebook-Cambridge Analytical data scandal happened which exposed the fact that millions of Facebook users’ personal data was being harvested without their consent by Cambridge Analytica. This led to the #DeleteFacebook movement which trended on Twitter.

Needless to say, Facebook users have been worried about their privacy for a long time now, and for good reason.

So, if you use the Facebook Messenger app, you might be asking yourself:

  • Are messages on Messenger private?
  • Is Facebook Messenger secure?
  • Can anybody see your messages on Messenger?
  • How do I make my Facebook Messenger private?
  • What permissions does Facebook and Messenger need and why does Facebook need them?
  • Is Facebook the only app with these “invasive” permissions?

This post hopes to answer all those questions and more. Use the guide below to jump around as you need:

Table of Contents

  • Are Messages On Messenger Private?
  • Is Facebook Messenger Secure?
  • Can Anybody See Your Messages On Messenger?
  • How Do I Enable Secret Conversations On Messenger?
  • Facebook and Facebook Messenger App Permissions List
  • Why Does Facebook Need These Permissions?
  • Is Facebook the Only App With These “Invasive” Permissions?

Are Messages On Messenger Private?

NO. Unless you are using Secret Conversations (explained below), your messages on Facebook Messenger are not private.

Messages that are sent through the Facebook Messenger app are NOT end-to-end encrypted. This means that any message you send on Messenger could be seen or intercepted in plain text.

How? For example, say you are at an airport connected to their public Wi-Fi. If you are sending messages to someone through Facebook Messenger, anyone using a program that intercepts network traffic could see your messages word for word.

Sounds pretty scary, doesn’t it? Yet millions of users continue to use Facebook Messenger on a daily basis.

If you truly care about your privacy, you would never use a messaging app that is not end-to-end encrypted by default such as Facebook Messenger.

Is Facebook Messenger Secure?

NO. Facebook Messenger is only “secure” if you are using their Secret Conversations feature.

In 2016, Facebook announced that they were testing encrypted, secret, self-destructing Messenger chats called Secret Conversations.

Even though Secret Conversations have been a feature that Facebook Messenger has offered since 2016, many users today don’t even know the feature exists.

Can Anybody See Your Messages On Messenger?

Technically, YES. Since your messages are not end-to-end encrypted, that means that Facebook, law enforcement, hackers, or anyone who knew what they were doing could potentially read your messages.

How Do I Start Secret Conversations On Messenger?

If you want to use Secret Conversations on Facebook Messenger (which offer end-to-end encryption), you have to first enable Secret Conversations on your account.

Follow the steps below to enable Secret Conversations on Facebook Messenger for both Android and iOS:

  1. Open Facebook Messenger
  2. Tap on your Profile Picture in the upper-left
  3. Scroll down and tap on Secret Conversations
  4. Make sure the Secret Conversations toggle is turned ON

Once Secret Conversations are enabled, then you can go and actually use them.

Follow the steps below to start a Secret Conversation on Facebook Messenger for Android:

  1. Open Facebook Messenger
  2. Tap on the Pencil icon in the upper-right
  3. Make sure the Padlock toggle is turned ON
  4. Choose the person you want to start a Secret Conversation with

Follow the steps below to start a Secret Conversation on Facebook Messenger for iOS:

  1. Open Facebook Messenger
  2. Tap on the Pencil icon in the upper-right
  3. Tap on Secret in the upper-right
  4. Choose the person you want to start a Secret Conversation with

For more information, see the Facebook Secret Conversations help article.

Read: Password Security – Why Secure Passwords Need Length Over Complexity

I want to start with reacting to a video that I saw shared around social media a few years ago when I wrote this post. In it, two news anchors were discussing the recent Facebook Messenger App and how many users are worried that Facebook is crossing the line and invading everyone’s privacy. Then, they referred to a “Tech Expert” named Anthony Mongeluzo who talked about how Facebook can use the permissions that you agree to in order to “use your recording device and your camera device on your phone without even telling you“. Also, he stated that if you text someone that you want something (such as a “Nike Fit Band” as he refers to it), that Facebook will start popping up ads for “Nike Fit Bands”.

NONE of this is true! Nowhere in the permissions does it say that it can use your camera or microphone at any time. Furthermore, if you text someone that you want something, ads will not start popping up on Facebook for that item. If anything, it will be using the cookies within your browser and the pages you’ve visited to give you “relevant” ads. This “Tech Expert” Anthony is a sad excuse for an expert. He refers to the WhatsApp Messenger App as “What’s Up App” and calls Nike FuelBands “Nike Fit Bands”. Just because you heard it from a “news source” online does not mean it’s true. The media loves to scare people because it causes buzz and causes their story to get out there and people to listen.

Secondly, let me get this out there.

If you have the regular Facebook App downloaded, you already have agreed to nearly all the permissions that the Facebook Messenger App requests!

Yes, you heard that correctly. The regular Facebook app (not the Messenger app) uses nearly all the same permissions as the Messenger app does.

Don’t believe me? Check this out (click on picture for full size):

Facebook and Facebook Messenger App Permissions List

As of Facebook version and Facebook Messenger version

Facebook Privacy Mobile App Permissions List
Facebook Messenger Privacy Mobile App Permissions List

In the above pictures, you’ll see screenshots of the Facebook app and the Messenger app’s permissions. After reading through them, some of them stand out as being pretty scary if you’ve never looked into these before (some are listed below).

Facebook Messenger App Permissions Examples:

  • directly call phone numbers
  • receive and read your text messages (SMS or MMS)
  • take pictures and videos
  • record audio
  • change network connectivity
  • download files without notification
  • read the contents of your shared storage

Facebook App Permissions Examples:

  • read your text messages (SMS or MMS)
  • take pictures and videos
  • record audio
  • change network connectivity
  • download files without notification
  • access location in the background

Notice that many of the permissions are the same, and the two apps request nearly identical permissions (with a few differences). After all, you are able to call people directly using the Facebook Messenger app which explains why it has a few differences from the regular Facebook app such as permission to directly call phone numbers.

Why does Facebook need these permissions?

Well, Facebook has some pages in their Help Center to explain to users what the permissions are used for. The pages have an explanation for both the regular Facebook App and the Facebook Messenger App.

See these links:

Some examples Facebook provides as to why they need those permissions (can also be found in the links above):

  • Read your text messages (SMS or MMS) – If you add a phone number to your account, this allows us to confirm your phone number automatically by finding the confirmation code that we send via text message.
  • Take pictures and video – 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.
  • Read calendar events plus confidential information – This allows the app to show your calendar availability (based on your phone’s calendar) when you’re viewing an event on Facebook.

Another thing that is important to note — An application needs permissions in order to get its features to work. I have even developed some basic Android apps in the past for fun that required some of these permissions. For example, if there is a button within your application that allows the user to take a picture or video, the developer needs to require permissions to take pictures and videos along with the permission to record audio. Otherwise, that button is useless because it won’t do anything. Simple as that.

Is Facebook the only app with these “invasive” permissions?

Absolutely not. This is something that you would think is common sense, but apparently it’s not. There are plenty of other apps out there that use many of these same permissions.

Here is a list of most of the “invasive” permissions listed above that the Facebook and Messenger App use along with other popular apps that use those same permissions:

I think you get the point. In my research, the app that surprised me the most was AVG AntiVirus Security. It requested nearly all the same permissions as the Facebook Messenger App except for a couple. Yet, I don’t see everyone up in arms about their privacy when they download AVG… quick! Somebody tell the media. Perhaps they can make a video to scare everyone about it.

Should you be worried about your privacy with the Facebook Messenger App or no?

The answer is NO! The point I’m trying to make with this post is that… you shouldn’t be any more worried about your privacy than you were before the Messenger App became mandatory in order to access your messages through the regular Facebook App.

Why? Because it uses almost every single permission that the regular Facebook App uses. Not to mention, based on the number of downloads listed for the other popular apps above, chances are that you use at least one of those apps and those apps use many of the same permissions as the Facebook Messenger App.

If you truly still believe that Facebook can “access your recording devices at any time”, well guess what, you agreed to those same permissions with the regular Facebook App, or WhatsApp, or Skype, or Snapchat, or many other apps.

The bottom line…

Is that Facebook is using the information they gather about each individual user so that they can sell that information to third-party companies. This is how Facebook monetizes the data they receive. Without it, they wouldn’t be in business. Not sure how your data is used? You can poke through the various categories on the Facebook Data Use Policy page.

The part we should be worried about is the fact that, regardless of any permission that any app could ever ask us, much of online Internet data (whether that be Facebook chats, websites visited, pictures sent, etc.) goes directly to the NSA because apparently we all need to be tracked. But that’s a whole other conversation…

Still not convinced and want alternatives?

Easy. You don’t have to download the Messenger App. You can access your messages via the desktop version of Facebook. Or… you could just use another messaging app! There are plenty out there — WhatsApp, Kik, Skype, etc.

Happy messaging!

119 thoughts on “The Truth About the Facebook Messenger App and Your Privacy”

    1. This whole article is by Facebook to give you misinformation. They can and will use app permissions for whatever they want and whatever benefits them period.

      1. Hi, Daniel! This article is not written by Facebook. I am in no way affiliated with Facebook whatsoever. If you have credible sources to back up your claims, please post them because I’d love to read them!

  1. When some one calls me on messenger and talks to me on messenger,the whole conversation is being heard and going out to other people How can this problem be fixed,other people don’t need to know who you are talking to

  2. A great app for text, sms, audio and video chat is LINE. I like it better than Whatsup because I don’t have to give anyone my phone number to use it. Try it out. Its huuuuge app in SE Asia. Best for me so far, hands down.

  3. Article refutes the claim that FB/FB Messenger apps can access your mic and camera at any time because they would need the permissions… then lists the permissions which include the mic and camera. Seems the expert knows WTF they are talking about. This entire article screams that it is a paid propaganda piece for FB.

    Does it request access to all my contacts on my phone? Yes
    Does it request access to my text message history? Yes

    There are other troubling permissions as well. I do not trust Facebook Messenger, I also don’t trust the Facebook App. I only access Facebook via the browser as it is far more secure, which is ridiculous as you would think the App would be more secure, but my browser doesn’t get all those permissions.

    1. Hey Drake! First of all, did you read the rest of the article? There are thousands and thousands of phone apps out there that request some of the same exact permissions as the Facebook Messenger app does. Perhaps you haven’t built a phone app before, but say you are creating an application that records voice memos. In order for your application to even be able to record voice memos, you would have to request permission to use the phone’s microphone at any time. If the app doesn’t get permission to use the phone’s microphone, it wouldn’t be able to record any voice memos. That’s how permissions with applications work.

      You are free to trust or distrust any application you choose. Nobody is forcing you to use the Facebook or Facebook Messenger app. I am not even 100% defending Facebook in this article, either. I mention at the end that Facebook sells the information they collect on their users to advertisement companies to show relevant ads tailored to each user. That’s how Facebook makes money. You have a say in what information Facebook has the ability to collect or not.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

  4. Nope. Not convinced. If I want to message from inside the Facebook website on my phone I should be able to. They force you to download a separate app. Well I’m not gonna fall for it. App has a lot of power and Facebook is already too powerful.

  5. My son and his girlfriend had a face to face conversation about a song they both liked. No googling. Within 10 minutes they were both seeing ads to download that song. My friend had a phone conversation about camping equipment. No googling. Within minutes he was seeing ads for tents etc. on his browser. I went to the doctor, received a diagnosis, texted my wife. No googling. Before I could even get home, I was seeing ads about treatments. I understand that my cookies can be used. But explain how voice conversations, phone or otherwise, and text messages are triggering this cookie usage. There is a difference between permission to use certain data and permission to spy and gather intel 24/7. I unplugged from all of it in March.

    1. Hi RV, I have tried what you explain here at least a couple dozen times and have never seen ads pop up about things I’m talking about. I have heard stories similar to yours, and that’s why I’ve wanted to try it myself. There has to be something else involved, it’s just a matter of figuring out what. However, I do agree… you should never see ads for something you are talking about if you didn’t specifically ask Google or search it online.

  6. one question… I have removed my messenger app’s DATA from my Android mobile phone. But when I try to open the same app again, then it is showing my last login username if I click on that then it will start login with that username and password which I had given when I done last login .

    Why App data clear is not removing all the messenger app data?

  7. The more I read about things like that the more I start to think that people can not read sentences.
    When you install Facebook Messenger is asks you – Do you want Messenger to be your default app for SMS and Calling. If you say yes, you will give it access to your texts and calls. Is that really a surprise? In order to handle SMS you give access to SMS, lol.

    I do not like how Messenger handles sms and calls, so I opted out and so my Messenger app have only access to camera, storage and microphone (calls and files, makes sense, right?).

    My Facebook app have only access to storage (posting photos, anyone?).

    Those setting were like that by default. I have not touched anything. I have no idea how people come with those conspiracy theories.

    1. I agree, Tom! Some of the permissions it asks you for are common sense. If you are using Facebook Messenger for SMS, it will obviously need access to send and receive SMS messages 🙂 And like you mentioned, anyone can opt out of those permissions if they would like.

  8. You don’t need a FB account to use messenger. Just a phone number which is …what it is. I like the good ol days of just providing a junk email account for apps. Because like the Author stated.. NSA tracks everyone. But private corporations track EVEN MORE because there is little to no over site . I didn’t invent the game, but those are the rules. Plan accordingly.

  9. I deactivated my Facebook account. Had a friend tell me that they messaged me. I downloaded the messenger app and placed my phone number, but I’m asked to sign in with Facebook. Will signing into reactivate my Facebook account?

    1. Hi Nita! I’m not exactly sure if you need an active Facebook account to use Messenger – I’m guessing you do. However, you could test using Messenger and see if Facebook asks you to reactivate your account. If they do, you can always just decline!

  10. A couple of years ago I watched a Danish movie called Iris (Siri backwards) about a Facebook like app that spied on people and collected their data for its evil developer. The movie was accompanied by an app that one downloaded at the movie which controlled your phone showing you what the app was seeing – which was different from what one was watching on the big screen.
    For example. On the big screen, you might see a secretary knocking on the principal’s door, but then your phone would vibrate, notifying you that “Iris” was active and you would see the principal having sex with a student- what IRIS was watching behind the door. Before the credits had even started rolling, viewers were frantically deleting this movie app from their phones.
    It made me laugh (albeit nervously) but if they COULD control your phone even if only for broadcasting purposes, then what are the capabilities when you GIVE your access permissions?
    I never downloaded the Facebook app- I have links to desktop site on my phone. I definitely didn’t download messenger- however my iPhone seems to know- and I can only access messages from my PC.
    SIRI turns on all by itself sometimes when I’m in a meeting and My phone is sitting dark on my desk.
    Yes, I believe everything the newscasters said way back then, especially after the last election. Messenger is always ON even when you turn it off. You can’t delete it from your cloud – you have to establish a whole new account with a different ISP, different hardware, different number. It remembers.
    And it sends you invitations from your friends – except they aren’t true invitations from your friends but instead “suggestions” disguised as invitations. It sent an invitation from my old Facebook account to a newer one I recently opened- and I don’t have the app installed under either account.

  11. Somebody just sent me on Messenger that video of the two TV anchors talking about Messenger and suggesting uninstalling Messenger, so I googled it and came across your article, which I found very informative. I have been using both Messenger and WhatsApp for a couple of years now with no issues.

  12. Hello! During HOLIDAYS is it safe to send “pass it on” emojis messages? I just freaked out some of my Messenger friends when I sent one for “Happy 2018”
    Thank you

    1. I generally advise against chain messages that get spread like wildfire. Not because all of them are unsafe, but they’re kind of pointless in my opinion and may have malicious links in them.

  13. Scrambler, thank you for all the good information about FACEBOOK Messenger. I read all the other comments against it and decided to go ahead and install it. You made me less afraid. I did install it once and got scared after 2 or so days and uninstalled it. So I’ll go ahead and keep it. Thanks again. Sandy

    1. Hi Harry! No, I have not used the Signal app before, but I have read a couple articles on it. Sounds like if it was more widely adopted, it could be a good alternative!

  14. My question is if I have someone on messenger can they still access my Facebook if I have them block on Facebook and not my friend on Facebook

    1. If you have somebody completely blocked on Facebook, they should never be able to see your profile or anything. In fact, your name won’t even pop up if they try and search it.

  15. Have you heard about people getting hacked or having their identity stolen from using the Facebook Messenger App? This has happened to a couple of people that I know which is what makes me nervous!

    Thank you for the article – very helpful! I’m still on the fence, but this helped clarify a bit.

    1. Hi Kris! No, I have not heard of that. The only way I can see that happening is if someone gave out all their sensitive information to someone who was pretending to be somebody else online on the Facebook Messenger App. There will always be “hackers” out there trying to get information they’re not supposed to have. Always be smart online!

  16. Today I read the updated Terms for Use and agreement for Snapchat. Seems like we are getting very naive – they dare to publish it in “layman” terms making it easier to grasp the true nature and meaning. My advise; stop using all services that demands access to Your Life and Privacy.
    They benefit greatly by harvesting, storing and later on selling that data. And you suspect nothing.

    1. Hi Eric,

      Reading the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy is always a good idea with any company if people are concerned about the privacy of their data. Although, I agree, many companies have a bunch of “legal jargon” written in there which makes it hard for the average person to understand. Thanks for leaving a comment!

  17. This is very interesting. Thanks for all of the info.

    Today a retired cop I work with told me she uninstalled Messenger. She said she just read something about the latest update allowing it to use the app via your camera and mic to spy on you.

    She isn’t a paranoid person. I’ve been searching to see if I can find what she read. She doesn’t remember the particular resource.

    Have you heard anything about this? I uninstalled the app. I have been able to access it using Puffin browser app in desktop mode.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Susan! No, I have not heard of that at all. If that were actually happening, that would be a huge privacy breach and word would get out fast if that were actually true. The app needs access to your camera and mic so that you can make video calls or audio calls from the app, just as thousands of others app do the same.

  18. What I like about WhatsApp vs Messenger is that it’s end to end encrypted and has two factor authentication. No snooping like there is with Messenger.

    1. That’s certainly nice! I am thinking more and more about trying WhatsApp out. I love the fact that they have end-to-end encryption in their messages – helps make people feel safe and that their information is secure. I was just reading about it on their site! Thanks for the comment, Doug!

  19. Anyone use WhatsApp along with Facebook Messenger? I have both and I think I got one message from WhatsApp. Thinking about getting rid of that and keeping Messenger for the time being. Thoughts?

  20. Dear Crambler,

    I learned a lot from reading your article and other people’s comments and reactions. Thanks so much for doing this!

    P.S. I am one of those reluctant users of Facebook that doesn’t trust the enterprise one bit.

  21. My husband pulled out our air conditioner air filter 2 days ago. Noticed it was dirty. He went to work and I texted him a reminder from my phone to pick one up on his way back. I did not email him, send him a FB message, or search “air filters” on my computer. In fact, the words “air filter” or anything related have not been typed onto this computer whatsoever, and it is the only computer I use. My husband does not use this computer either, and none of my accounts are active on his computer. This morning I noticed there are air filter ads on my FB feed. Can you explain what may have happened because I find this all too strange and encroaching.

    1. Hi Saharai, thanks for the comment. I’m not exactly sure what may have happened based on your explanation. That definitely does seem encroaching if that’s the case, I agree!

    2. My parter had an interesting one, had a big fight with her mother, didn’t visit any pages related to counseling or family problems or anything like that. Just Pm’ed through facebook some friends about it, that night persistent adverts popping up for family counseling. For the life of me I can’t see what she did other than private message to cause that.

  22. I am still able to access fb messages by using the desktop version. I bookmarked it on my iPhone’s safari so it’s easy to use but annoying bc you need to zoom and zoom out. It can also be quite glitchy.

    1. Yeah I know what you mean. It’s basically using the desktop version of the website on your phone so it’s not optimized for a mobile screen hence why you have to zoom in and out and why it doesn’t appear to work very smoothly. But that’s one way to do it!

  23. I find it interesting that in this article it is stated “Furthermore, if you text someone that you want something, ads will not start popping up on Facebook for that item.” – yet my wife experienced almost exactly that a few days ago! She had directly Private Messaged a friend on Messenger and shared a recipe for a dessert and within minutes she received a notification from Pinterest about Pins she may be interested in, and those pins were all about that recipe!

    How did THAT happen???

    1. If she private messaged a friend about a recipe for a dessert, she more than likely visited the website for that dessert recipe. Therefore, if she visited the website for that dessert recipe, there were cookies in her browser that remembered what page she visited and she received relevant ads/pages from that. The action of her private messaging it to her friend had nothing to do with that.

  24. This is strange, but I have been able to access my messages on the mobile version of chrome without any issues, but just recently (past 2 days), i’ve had “block ups” that tell me i will soon be unable to access messages unless I download messenger.

    Seems a bit heavy-handed to me.

    They already have a perfectly reliable messaging system with multiple platforms for use. I can’t believe they are solely interested in my satisfaction; if they were, they would leave well enough alone.

    No, they are purely interested in monetization of my personal information.

    For what it’s worth, they permission descriptions discussed are not part of any contract or EULA, so they should be considered what they are: one aspect of permission usage.

    I have no doubt that they will bundle the metadata from sms and text messages with other collected data to better profile their users and profit off of them.

    I understand that the product they offer is contingent upon that data being used, but I am not nor should I be expected to willingly forfeit all expectations of privacy. I will delete my account before I do that.

  25. Facebook Messenger is like a frickin virus. It takes over your SMS, phone, contacts, and they force you to download it just so you can view your facebook messages. Chat heads pop up automatically, dominating your phone.

    In essence, Facebook is trying to hijack your (at least Android) phone without taking the time to build their own operating system.

    I use Metal. Facebooks two apps are over a gig and Metal is less than a quarter of that and far less intrusive.

    Sorry, I didn’t buy my damn phone from Facebook – so you can’t take it over and make it my Facebook phone. People who take this lying down are idiots. My facebook app should be just that – for facebook. It shouldn’t be taking over my text messages or phone calls – period.

    These updates are a sly way of installing bloated crap.

    1. I understand some of your frustrations. You should also keep in mind that many of those things are customizable. For example, you talked about the chat heads popping up and dominating your phone. Those can easily be turned off with a switch in settings. I turned mine off right away.

    2. I am having problems with people claiming to be someone else..
      It’s always about money and it’s causing issues with my friends and I because I can’t tell if it’s them or not. It is really becoming a huge problem.

    3. Ok I have an android phone and I am with T-Mobile now I know why these advertisements keep popping up and yes I need to get rid of them but when I go to settings and turn off the notification I am still getting all that stuff and I am sick of it. How do I go in and turn off what ever I need to turn off so it stops. I am not a high profile electronics person. I am 59 and frustrated with all that’s on my phone that you have to have on there because that’s the way the phone is set up but I would just like to have pictures, gallery, text and phone and google and get rid of everything else and I know I have to have part of what I’ve got. I have another question if I am on Facebook messenger can other people besides the one I sent the message to see what I typed? I think that stinks if they can. I was pretty sure that was just an one on one conversation.

      1. Hi Diane, as far as T-Mobile’s advertisements go, I’m not sure the best way to shut those off. The ads shown are usually on a carrier-to-carrier basis, and I have never had T-Mobile before. Also, for the second part of your comment, if you send a message to somebody on Facebook Messenger, only they can see that message. The only way someone else would be able to see it is if someone else was looking over your shoulder at one of your phones while you were messaging that person. Hope that helps!

  26. Thank you for an informative article. Found this via google when trying to find out if the apps are safe or suspect.

    Just to confirm that it still is possible to access messages without either app but the mobile browser must use desk top version of Facebook. Mobile version tries its best to get you to download the messenger app… No doubt the app versions are easier to use but I think I’ll keep using Facebook through the browser. Works fine with Chrome and Samsung Xcover 3.

      1. I still do not use messenger, have not downloaded it, etc.
        All my android products ( phone, Tablets, pc) I use on the Desktop version and I am able to use messenger via the web browser ( Chrome or Puffin).

        Not that I “Chat” that way often, but when I do, it’s via the icon on Facebook.

        Just putting my 2 cents in.

  27. There used to be something called the telephone, and then the mobile, and then something called e-mail. They still do a service. What is this constant excitable need to be 24/7 in touch with other people?

  28. Yeah, all I want is to be able to occasionally check messages while I’m not at home. Even before, I barely used FB on my phone. I kept my old Android (was recently given a hand-me-down iPhone 5) just so I could put my sim in so I could continue using and seeing my messages but it’s a pain in the ass. Apparently there were ways round it but I couldn’t figure it out. I don’t trust this at all. In two minds to just wing it or put up with it.

  29. What’s all the bullshit whining about? Your phone provider also logs your calls and your location and will instantly provide law enforcement and the government any information about you they request about you, yet you pay to have your privacy open to the government. If you check online you’ll find your phone number listed somewhere without your permission, and that’s a service that you pay monthly to use. Facebook you pay nothing for. Why do people whine so much about a free service nobody forces them to use?

  30. Why are we forced to use something we don’t want and to lose privacy. I do not want Messenger and never agreed to it but it is here. I’d rather throw my computer away and use a telephone (landline). Progress with the loss of privacy.

  31. Hi can Facebook distribute or sell the images and videos you send on messenger? How private are they really? And why can’t you delete videos from the messenger app? Or on Fb messenges?

    1. Hi Gracie, Facebook would not be able to distribute or sell the images/videos you send on Messenger. That would be a massive no-no. Those are private to your conversations. I personally have not tried to delete any videos sent using the Messenger app, so I’m not sure on that one!

  32. When trying to access a message in the browser, FB refuses to open the message and insists that I use the app.
    I have used the browser method for months, and it’s been fine.
    Xmas day that ended.

  33. Thank you for this! It assuaged a lot of my fears.

    But in response to: “or you could go to Facebook on your mobile browser (not using the app) and access your messages that way” –that’s no longer allowed (at least on iPhones). I never downloaded the Facebook app, so I always check facebook via the browser on my phone, but I’m not longer allowed to access my messages that way.

    Kind of frustrating.

    But thanks for clarifying the rest!

    1. Hey Jenny! Thanks for making me aware of that. I have updated the article and removed that piece. You used to be able to do that, but Facebook even took that ability away now!

  34. If you updated your article to reflect these changes, I’ve not seen it. I’m no longer able to access my messages via the mobile site.

    I’m so tired of FB and other apps ‘forcing’ folks to use more apps to do what we’ve done without those extra apps. They clutter up my phone and give me more crap to deal with. :/

    1. Hi Sky, I have updated my article and removed the piece that say you can access your messages via the mobile site. You used to be able to do that, however now it appears that if you’re trying to access Facebook messages via a mobile app, you have to access it through the Messenger app. It is rather annoying, I agree!

  35. Hi my Facebook account is deactivated but messenger app was downloaded without my permission this caused major issues for me my account is deactivated about 3 years any help would be fantastic I have iPhone 6 this happen after latest iOS update

    1. Hi there, I’m a little confused. Are you saying that with the latest iOS update, Facebook Messenger was automatically downloaded onto your phone without you doing anything?

  36. With all the back-and-forth contradictory answers I’m having trouble concluding what to do about downloading the new messenger. Is there any legal conclusion that I can get directly from Facebook ?

  37. I can still access Facebook messages through my phone’s browser, I just need to specify viewing the “computer version” of the page as opposed to the default “mobile version”. Hope this helps!

  38. What I don’t like about being forced to use the messenger app is that it allows Facebook to bypass the secure sandbox that is the browser. The browser limits what can be done. The app has total power on your phone. Facebook does not know my phone number right now and I want to keep it that way. As soon as I installed either one of the Messenger app of Facebook app then they could make the connection between my phone and my account. Then they can next start seeing who else has my phone number on their phone and start showing them my Facebook account in their suggested friends list. And this will be how my abusive family will find me. Right now they can’t call me and they don’t know my Facebook account. But Messenger can break that privacy for me. That’s why I only want to use the Web for accessing Facebook.

  39. When using messenger from Facebook on my phone, does this mean everything I have put on my computer will be on my phone!? Or is Facebook just there to use just messenger and does not have all the other stuff on my phone!?

  40. In order to be an effective anti-virus software, a lot of permissions are needed. For example, if your anti-virus asks for access to the microphone but not SMS and call logs (viruses can record data there) then you should avoid that anti-virus like the plague.

    The problem with the Facebook Messenger, which is not addressed in your article, is that Facebook and it’s affiliates use user data to market products and services. So messenger can do everything AVG can and more with these permissions, yet it’s not a trusted anti-virus vendor: Facebook is a marketing company. That’s plenty reason to be concerned.

  41. Do these apps retain permissions if you disable them in your general privacy settings after installing the apps? For example, I have disabled almost everything in my privacy settings for all apps except a few permissions when certain apps are in use, like location services for Google Maps, for obvious reasons…

    1. Yes, the phone should honor whatever privacy settings you set after installing the apps. The only times I think those would change is if you manually changed the settings again or if the app itself asked for permissions to use something again and you granted it permissions. Thanks for the comment Peter!

  42. Yes that’s how come I came to this site Angella. I use FB through my Android browser because I don’t want to ‘Install’ my privacies away through their App. Now I can’t access my messages on my phone through the browser. They are so dodgey….. and yet I still enjoy FB….

  43. I agree,Alex! It sounds like bull to me. I don’t recall giving Facebook the “Ok” to invade my private information,pictures etc. I do not use Skype,Snap chat,Instagram etc. I don’t give permission for anyone to view my phone texts and/or photos shared (ei when I’m not logged into Facebook) So basically you’re saying that Facebook already sees texts and pictures I send via my phone,even though I haven’t downloaded the Messenger app??

  44. Was really surprised about the AVG permissions, my husband uses this and is usually quite savvy about downloading apps that require dodgy permissions. he refuses to even use facebook never mind the messenger.

    1. I know, isn’t that crazy? Although it’s important to note that even though the apps are requesting permissions for these, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should be concerned. However, you do wonder why some apps like AVG need so many of those permissions!

  45. “you could go to Facebook on your mobile browser (not using the app) and access your messages that way” – well, not any more! I just got a notification that soon they won’t be available and if I want to see them on mobile, I’ll HAVE to download the messenger app. Sounds suspicious.
    “you shouldn’t be any more worried about your privacy than you were before the Messenger App became mandatory in order to access your messages through the regular Facebook App” – absolutely. However, I don’t have the regular app, exactly because of the permissions. So should I be worried? Yeah, just like I’m worried about the regular app.
    Also, the SMS permission stinks like a trojan horse. You could input the stupid code by hand, it’s really not that big a hassle. But they’re asking for permission seemingly just for this one thing. And they’re really not going to use it for anything else? Yeah, right.

    1. Hi Alex! I was just notified of that as well – the fact that you won’t be able to access messages through your mobile browser. That’s definitely not ideal. I will update my article to reflect those changes soon. Also, I don’t blame you for being paranoid about all the permissions even the regular Facebook app requests, it does seem that they request way more permissions than they actually truly need. Thanks for the comment!

  46. As of today you can no longer access messenger through the browser. You must download the app.

    I do not have Facebook app or messenger app, nor do I want them. I do not see the need to be always connected to 5000 virtual strangers. I prefer to slchoose to log in. I do not see the need to allow 5000 strangers to call me at will. The ones who I want to stay connected with know how to reach me.

    If Facebook was not a marketing tool for me I would be gone over this.

    1. On Android, you *can* do facebook messaging without the facebook app. On the browser menu, select “Request desktop site”. It’s uglier to use, but you can do messaging. Everything seems to appear identically as what I see when using my laptop.

      1. P.S. — In case I wasn’t clear enough — I do not have even the facebook app installed. I was scared of the permissions of that app from the get-go. I just use Chrome. Usually I just use the mobile site, but switch to the desktop site if I want to message or do something I can’t figure out how to do on the mobile site.

        That said, I think I’m about to relent and install both apps. I don’t think they’re evil or malicious. I do trust that they’ll only use it for ads, to recommend friends from your contact list, etc. … I assume they’ll be easier to use. If not, I’ll uninstall them.

      2. Wow, thanks, Guy! I wasn’t aware of this feature. I’ve always refused to download the FB and Messenger app due to sketchy permissions, and was very annoyed when they blocked access to messaging on the mobile site. Problem solved!

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  48. Pingback: Is the safety of our students at risk? | The Technological Journey of a Pre-Service Teacher

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