If you were around in the 70’s, you may remember this scene from the movie Network. Or you’ve probably heard it referred to in a myriad of instances.
Here we are–almost 40 years later…these words by character Howard Beale still ring true:
- “things are bad…“
- “everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job…the dollar buys a nickel’s worth…“
- “We know the air is unfit to breath and our food is unfit to eat.“
- “…it’s like everything everywhere is going crazy so we don’t go out anymore…we sit in the house, and slowly, the world we’re living in is getting smaller…and all we say is ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms…let me have my toaster, my tv and steel belted radials, and I won’t say anything.’“
Well, it’s time to say something. The Facebook Messenger app update recently got everyone’s panties in a bunch because of privacy and “Permissions.” Here’s what I’ve agreed Messenger can do on my smartphone:
“This application can access the following on your device:
- directly call phone numbers-this may cost you money
- read phone status and identity
- edit your text messages
- read your text messages
- receive text messages
- send text messages-this may cost you money
- take pictures and videos
- record audio
- approximate location
- precise location
- read call log
- read your contacts
- read your own contact card
- modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
- read the contents of your USB storage
- find accounts on the device
- read Google service configuration
- change network connectivity
- Download files without notification
- full network access
- receive data from Internet
- view network connections
- view Wi-Fi connections
- run at startup
- draw over other apps
- control vibration
- prevent phone from sleeping
- change your audio settings
- read sync settings
- install shortcuts
Ok…some of that is understandable; some needs clarification. But it’s definitely a scary set of Permissions. And I agreed to it. And then I uninstalled ‘cuz I saw a Facebook post bringing it to the attention of the public. Then I reinstalled since OMG, MOST OF THE OTHER APPS ON MY PHONE DO THE SAME THING! (And I wanted the convenience of Messenger.)
The reason I’m writing this post is not to make you aware of the Messenger Permissions issue (you’ve probably heard about it already)–but to make you aware that most of your apps are doing these things already…they can take pictures with your phone, record audio, download files without notification, and lots more!
The regular Facebook app (the one you use to access your Facebook page) can do most of the above list PLUS a few more, including “add or modify calendar events and send email to guests without owner’s knowledge” and “read calendar events plus confidential information.”
Did you know this? Have you checked your Permissions lately? HOW TO see what you’ve agreed to:
Go to your account Settings on your phone and find Application Manager (that’s on an android; I’m not sure how to do it on iPhone). Then select each installed app…scroll down to see what Permissions you’ve agreed to.
And, guess what? There’s nothing we can do about it. Unless, of course, you want to uninstall most of your apps and use the phone like a phone only…lol!
“I’m a human being, goddammit. My life has value!”
It’s time to let apps developers know that we’re “as mad as hell!” But how? idk…I’m working with my teen sons on some solutions and will post them soon. In the meantime, READ your Permissions. And squawk about it as much as possible…so apps developers won’t get more ballsy and really make it impossible to feel comfortable using your phone.
Hopefully, my “story” won’t end like (SPOILER ALERT!) Howard Beale’s did (click for last 5 minutes of movie)…
Additional information: my Bookkeeper, Jennifer Darrow, shared these good articles…they certainly explain WHY the apps developers are making these Permissions, but HOW far they’re going to go concerns me.
And this 60 Minutes segment about Data Brokers (scroll in to 3:00)–this will require another blog post!