Messenger app causes unrest for users

Courtesy Photo
Courtesy Photo

Facebook has once again changed, and the newest changes concerning its messenger feature, both desktop and mobile, may not be for the better.

There has been a recent influx of group message spam since Facebook’s most recent update to its online messenger.  No official information concerning the rise in spam has been released, leading to the conclusion that it is not related to the update itself but rather to the relative lack of spam identification abilities that many websites struggle with.

Facebook does, however, offer a help page concerning the removal of spam and the resolution of issues caused by following spam links.   The Facebook administration recommends avoiding unknown applications, only granting applications basic permissions and avoiding applications that ask permission to access the messenger system.  If one does encounter group spam despite these efforts, it is highly recommended that one report it immediately so as to prevent it from spreading further. 

If one accidentally follows a spam link or adds an app that causes spam problems, it is suggested that one remove all unnecessary or unknown applications from one’s account and change one’s password as soon as possible to avoid the leaking of information.

Facebook’s online messenger system is not the only system with flaws, however.  Students have been giving quite mixed reviews about Facebook’s new Messenger app for Android and iPhone, with particular concern about the app’s permissions.

Some students appreciate the new features of the app, such as sophomore microbiology major Wisam Buti.

“It’s cooler,” Buti said. “Especially because you can take in-the-moment pictures.  But the pictures you do take don’t save to your phone.  You actually have to download them back.  That’s the most annoying part (of the app),” Buti said.

Others feel that the app is an inconvenient change.

“I don’t really like the Messenger (app),” said Chelsea Jones, a senior healthcare administration major.  “I feel like it’s more convenient to have everything on the site instead of having to download an additional app to message people,” Jones said.

Many mobile Facebook users are concerned about the permissions the new Messenger app requests, which include access to personal information, the ability to read contact information and call numbers stored in the phone, the ability to record audio and take pictures and videos and the ability to modify or delete the contents of the phone’s internal storage.

The wording of the app permissions displayed when one originally attempts to download the app is rather ambiguous and generally unclear.  Facebook does offer information about the permissions, claiming that all of these permissions improve the app’s processes. 

Most, like the ability to record audio and video, appear to link to the app’s newer features, like the ability to send in-the-moment pictures and video mentioned by Buti.  Some, like the ability to make calls, highlight new changes to the app, such as the ability to call contacts directly from the app without having to exit it first. 

However, the amount of information being made available to the Facebook database is a bit unsettling, especially when one considers Facebook’s past history of selling location information concerning its users, as highlighted by Discovery News in an article titled, “How Facebook Sells Your Personal Information.”

All in all, opinions of the new applications tend to vary widely to each end of the spectrum.  It remains to be seen whether or not Facebook will correct the issues with group spam and inappropriate permissions, though most Facebook users remain hopeful.