$19B later, Facebook now wants to own my phone

We all knew that Facebook was up to something when they dished out $19 billion to scoop up WhatsApp.

Although we still aren’t certain as to what exactly they are up to, it’s been relatively easy to detect all of the new changes to Facebook login/registration, profile information, etc. They are clearly very eager to integrate their newly-acquired messaging service (information database) into their preexisting services — so much so, in fact, that they’ve already been rolling out updates to their Android app so that users can experience the new benefits associated with –

Wait, what? What’s this?

Facebook Application Updates - New Permissions

Obviously, some of the permissions Facebook is requesting make sense: if you want to take a photo or video and send it through Facebook, you’re going to need to give it permission to access that part of your phone’s functionality. If you want to have Facebook events seamlessly integrated with your calendar, you’ll need to allow Facebook the access to modify and create calendar events.

Unfortunately, they don’t stop there:  some of these new permissions requests seem to go just slightly above and beyond the necessary requirements to give me the “best of both” WhatsApp and Facebook. With requests for permissions to do things like preventing your phone from sleeping; sending emails to calendar event guests without your knowledge; adjusting or configuring your wallpaper for you; reading your confidential information; and–perhaps most egregious, not to mention ironic–reading your SMS/MMS messages (wasn’t WhatsApp created to avoid using traditional SMS messaging?), Facebook seems to have gotten a little carried away.

For the more seemingly offensive requests, Facebook has commented that it asks to:

  • Read your text messages so that it can confirm your phone number via text message (if you’ve added it to your account)

  • Read/write contacts so that you can import and sync your phone’s contacts to Facebook, or vice versa (think updating contact images)

  • Add and/or modify calendar events and send emails to guests without your knowledge so that you can see your Facebook events in your phone’s calendar

  • Read calendar events plus confidential information so that the Facebook app can check your calendar for you to see if you have something already scheduled for the time of the Facebook event you’re currently viewing

Of course, that still leaves things like the “change your wallpaper” issue wide open, but it’s pretty safe to assume that they’re not about to steal all sorts of crazy personal information from that method. On the other hand, maybe they’re planning on using that feature for pesky Facebook ads – 2.0 style?

Guess it’s back to speculating…

This post was originally posted to Geektime.


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