Friday, February 23, 2018
News Roundup

Busted: Five myths about Facebook's Messenger app

NEW YORK — Facebook's recent effort to force people to adopt its standalone mobile messaging app has privacy-concerned users up in arms. Many of them believe the app is especially invasive.

One blog from the Huffington Post published in December has gone viral because it claims the app gives Facebook "direct control over your mobile device" and allows Facebook to call phone numbers without a user's intervention and send text messages without confirmation, but none of that is accurate.

In truth, Facebook Messenger isn't any more invasive than Facebook's main app — or other similar applications.

The fear and confusion stem from a message that greets owners of Android devices when they install the app. It explains that the app requires permission to access the device's camera, microphone, list of contacts and other information.

Here's what Facebook's mobile messaging app does and doesn't do:

Myth: The Facebook Messenger app's terms of service are different from and more intrusive than Facebook's own official terms.

Reality: Facebook's terms of service are the same for all its mobile apps, including the main Facebook app. You can read it at m.facebook.com/policies. What's upsetting people is the list of "permissions" they see when they download and install the app on an Android phone. It's a long list with 10 items, each of which states that the app needs access to features on your phone, including contacts, calendar, location data and Wi-Fi information. Sure, that's a lot of personal data. But it's the same data most messaging apps have access to. On the iPhone, users don't get the list of permissions when they install the app, but when they use it, permissions pop up individually. You can view the app's list of permissions here. (Click "View details" under "Permissions.")

Myth: You have to use the Messenger app if you want to send messages to your Facebook friends.

Reality: Although it's required to download if you are using Facebook's mobile app on an iPhone or on Android smartphones, you can avoid it if you use the Facebook messenger service on your desktop or laptop, iPad or even the mobile Facebook website.

Myth: Facebook's Messenger app will use your phone's microphone to record you.

Reality: The app needs permission to use your phone's microphone and camera. But it requires that access because the microphone is needed for voice calling, a service the standalone app offers that the Facebook app doesn't, and sending sound with videos. Same with the camera, it needs access if you want to send your friends pictures.

Myth: Facebook will direct the app to send SMS, or text, messages without your permission.

Reality: One of the permissions does say Facebook can edit, receive, read and send SMS messages. But the company says the reason it wants to send and receive SMS messages is so that if you add a phone number to your Messenger account, you can confirm by a confirmation code that Facebook sends via text message.

Myth: The Messenger app is new.

Reality: Facebook's Messenger app has been around since 2011. In April, it started requiring that users in Europe download and install the app if they wish to send messages to Facebook friends. Two weeks ago, the company said it would expand the requirement to other parts of the world. Facebook says it's forcing users to make the switch because a standalone app offers more features. For example, the app is faster, offers a selfie cam, includes stickers and can be used to reach people on your contact list who are not Facebook users.

Comments
Winter Olympics: Alina Zagitova wins figure skating gold, Russia’s first of Games

Winter Olympics: Alina Zagitova wins figure skating gold, Russia’s first of Games

GANGNEUNG, South Korea  — The Russians finally have a gold medal at the  Olympics, thanks to a 15-year-old who beat the fellow teen who inspired her to become a figure skater.Alina Zagitova won one of the Games' spotlight events Frida...
Updated: 3 hours ago

High school scoreboard for Feb. 22

Thursday’s scoreboardSoftballBoca Ciega 4, Pinellas Park 2Admiral Farragut 7, Northside Christian 1Boys tennisOsceola 7, Dixie Hollins 0Clearwater Central Cath. 4, Jesuit 3Girls tennisOsceola 7, Dixie Hollins 0Boys basketballClass 3A, region semifina...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Deputy ‘never went in’ during Parkland school shooting. There were other failures, too

Deputy ‘never went in’ during Parkland school shooting. There were other failures, too

Eight days after mass shooter Nikolas Cruz murdered 17 people inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Broward’s top cop on Thursday revealed a stunning series of failures by the sheriff’s department.A school campus cop heard the gunfire, rushed ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
A case for wild flamingos calling Florida their home

A case for wild flamingos calling Florida their home

In 2015, Conchy the flamingo showed up at Florida’s Naval Air Station Key West, and he wouldn’t leave. Normally, managers on the grounds lethally remove feathered troublemakers — it can be very dangerous with birds flying around million-dollar fighte...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Updated: 7 hours ago
Florida man yells ‘murderers!’ as he’s executed for slaying

Florida man yells ‘murderers!’ as he’s executed for slaying

Associated PressSTARKE — An inmate convicted of raping and killing a college student decades ago screamed and yelled "murderers!" three times, thrashing on a gurney as he was being put to death Thursday. The governor’s office said Eric Scott Branch, ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
After Parkland, another plea for rumor control: ‘This is not a joke’ (w/video)

After Parkland, another plea for rumor control: ‘This is not a joke’ (w/video)

ST. PETERSBURG — The mayor and the police chief came to Northeast High on Thursday to warn students about the dangers of circulating rumors of school safety threats on social media.While they were there, one of those unfounded rumors popped up on Fac...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Administrator Haley Loeun fired from CareerSource jobs centers

Administrator Haley Loeun fired from CareerSource jobs centers

Haley Loeun, a top aide to the embattled leader of the Pinellas and Hillsborough jobs boards, was fired Thursday from her $130,000-a-year position as business services director.Loeun came under criticism after the Tampa Bay Times reported that employ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
V.M. Ybor: That’s not cigar smoke you’re smelling

V.M. Ybor: That’s not cigar smoke you’re smelling

TAMPA — Across Interstate 4 from Ybor City’s nightlife, another part of the historic neighborhood has an odor less nostalgic — and much less pleasant — than cigar smoke and roasting coffee beans.V.M. Ybor, named after the Spaniard who founded the cit...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

Mattis expected to back allowing transgender troops to stay in the military

WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to propose to President Donald Trump that transgender members of the U.S. military be allowed to continue serving despite the president’s call last summer for a ban on all transgender service, acc...
Updated: 10 hours ago