Solution to Facebook / Messenger Privacy Issues
UPDATED: 24 Jan 2019
There are frequent complaints about Facebook’s Terms of Service (TOS) or Privacy Statement. Both seem to always stretch the legal & moral limits. The constant strain on the limits have led to the point that many users just hit the “Agree” button without even reading the long legalese document.
Plus, over the past year, there were significant breaches of user data on Facebook being released to others. Some of the problems are clearly due to the policies that FB has in place. Although none of this article will allow you to use FB without agreeing to their TOS, it will fix many other issues:
The big issue for Facebook fans right now is the FORCED use of the Facebook Messenger app. If you receive a private message via the Facebook (FB) mobile app, when you attempt to retrieve it, you will be taken to the Messenger app (if it is already installed) or, a page where you can install the Messenger app. If you fail to do that, you will not be able to read the message.
There are many people (such as myself) who are concerned about the privacy issues that Facebook presents – especially since they are “forcing” users to install a SECOND application just for the messaging function. (Read the Snopes article here for a pretty well-balanced view of this.) Some people have become alarmed when they read about some of the “permissions” that the new app requires (use of the phone, SMS, camera, mic, etc). But I have a graphic that may surprise you:
Yep, every one of the permissions requested by the Messenger app, you already granted to the Facebook app! Plus, the FB app requires you to allow it access to the “Device and App History!” Notice that by presenting this image, I am NOT condoning the Messenger app – my point is that you already gave those permissions to FB so, giving them to Messenger is no greater risk.
But there are other issues with the Messenger app (most/all of these issues are also related to the FB app):
1. Messenger is redundant and not needed:
Most of us already have Texting, Twitter, Email, and Hangout accounts (plus others) that all do the same thing that FB Messenger does (and in some cases MUCH more and better.) Why do I need messenger?
If someone is a good friend, they probably already have your contact information for those accounts. If anyone else REALLY wants to contact you, more than likely, your home phone number has been published world-wide on the Internet with your name attached. And, if they are not close friends, why would they need to send you a PRIVATE message? Why not just comment in FB proper?
2.Messenger is a memory hog:
This short primer on memory is VERY instructive but skip it if you must: “I checked the storage and I have 1 GB free but I still git an ‘Out of Memory’ error!”
There are two types of memory (storage). The long term memory on some devices may only be as little as 8 GigaBytes (8GB). This is where applications (apps) are stored until they are used. Apps typically are from 10-100 MB. That may not seem like much when talking about GigaBytes (1GB = 1000MB) but after all the preinstalled apps and the system using 1/2 (or more) of that, there may only less than 1GB free for users. This memory area is also shared with all of your music, photos, videos, and the data stored on your device by all the other applications.
Facebook is one of the largest apps available. As of 1/24/19, the Facebook app on my phone claims 198 MB of memory (my wife’s tablet shows 297 MB). But the REAL TRUTH is that FB is ALSO using 348 MB of “user data” and 255 MB of “cache” for a total of 801 MB (or almost a Gigabyte of data)! The Messenger app has similar requirements. Between the two apps, they likely are using around 1.5 GB or more.
But the short-term (often called RAM) memory is much smaller than the long-term area. Older devices might have 2 GB while newer top of the line devices might have as much as 16 GB. This short term memory holds the apps and data for whatever you are doing RIGHT NOW. After you close an app, it is supposed to release its access to memory and allow other apps to use it. Some apps fail to properly quit and you may run out of memory. (If you get the out of memory error, it is usually best to just turn off the power and restart the device in order to clear the memory error.) To reduce the problem, you have to clean out unused apps. I start with the apps that require the largest amount of storage/memory (such as FB and FB Messenger).
3.Messenger is another battery drain:
All apps that run in the background cause an extra drain on the battery. Apps that “check in” on a schedule cause even more of a drain (PLUS, they are downloading DATA from your monthly carrier’s allowance). You can recognize such apps if they present notifications of new updates (usually in the notifications area). All social media apps, email, weather, etc applications do these check ins. But FB and Messenger make frequent checks and therefore are among the worst to drain your battery.
Solution to Facebook Messenger Privacy
Although Facebook routinely changes their policies, at the present, the Facebook (non-mobile) website allows you to send/receive messages and complete all other functions. Actually, there are things that you can only do on the website (for instance, set the sort of your timeline). So, the simple solution is to dump BOTH the FB app and the Messenger app and use your device’s browser to visit the Facebook site – in desktop mode.
Most social media applications (for iOS or Android) begin as little more than a simple shortcut to their associated webpage. They may add additional functions – but generally, the need to support users without mobile devices assures that all functions must also work via a standard web browser visiting the website.
The solution (instructions for Android, iOS should be similar):
- In the search bar of your browser, enter “facebook.com/login” (or, click here.) When the page loads, just sign in with your normal credentials.
- Be sure that you are on the “Desktop site” – which will look like this: https://www.facebook.com. If there is an “m” in the address (https://m.facebook.com) you are connected to the mobile version and it will NOT allow you to use the chat function of Facebook. However, all other functions and display are very similar to the app version. If you are content to pass on the chat function, just skip to step 3. Otherwise, on the mobile site, click on the browser settings and select “Request desktop site.”
- Click on the settings button and select “Save Shortcut” or “Save Bookmark to Desktop” or what ever option is available on your device. Generally, the shortcut will be placed on the main page. If that page is filled, it may be on a different page. Just slide across the pages to find it.
- Click on the shortcut anytime you want to visit Facebook.
- If the shortcut fails to include the proper icon, hold down on the shortcut and when the menu appears, select “edit” then click on the image and select an appropriate icon. (You can download one of the above images if you wish.)
- If the shortcut is on the wrong page, just hold it down and then drag it across pages to the page you desire. (This does not work on IOS.)
Pros and Cons
PROS: Using your browser rather than the two Facebook apps will save over a Gigabyte of your very limited memory – and likely extend the time that your battery will last between charges! You can accomplish MORE than by using the app(s).
CONS: SHARING on Facebook using the browser can be challenging. It may also require slightly longer for your browser to display the site than the FB app would require. Finally, you browser may not present notifications from FB. This is such things as a tone when someone wants to chat, or some other interruption when a user posts on FB, etc. The red flags at the top of the FB menu (friend requests, comments, etc) ARE seen when the browser opens.
You may be aware of other things that are different (pro or con). Please report them in the comments below.