End User mobile apps

Facebook intrusion continues #privacy #sms #calendar

facebook_screenshotNormally when a droid asks me to let an App have permission to access specific functions on the phone I just blindly accept.

This was the subject of a Twitter conversation before Christmas. Some people said they declined. We were particularly discussing Facebook which I naturally distrust.

I woke up this morning to an offer of an App upgrade from Facebook.   The first thing that jumped out of the page (screen) at me was the fact that they, actually it feels as if Mark Zuckerberg himself is involved, wanted access to my sms messages.

This was a step too far even though I’m sure I must have given this permission to other Apps. No doubt Google has it.

You only have to look at the list of permissions being asked for to get suspicious.

I like the idea that I have a tool that integrates all my media and connectivity. is trying to head that way for businesses. I can see how might want to integrate with the communities hosted on various 3rd party platforms. It’s a way of getting a lot of information about the people that you interact with and for a business that is valuable.

The trouble is that I don’t trust Facebook. Facebook’s approach seems to be tell everyone everything by default and maybe rein back in from there.  I feel this even though it may not be true.

I don’t have the same level of distrust of other platforms. Google I think does its utmost to protect your information. You do have to be careful not to accidentally open up to the whole world but that is down to you taking a little care.

Last night I tried to export my Google Contacts to another platform so that I could use their mailing facility. It didn’t work. Google wouldn’t accept the 3rd party request in case it was a hack. The request came via Amazon Web Services. From the Google perspective it could have been anyone. I can make the export work if I jump through a few hoops. Last night I didn’t feel like hoop jumping so I let it go.

google_passwordThe idea that Google made it difficult and refused the export request made me feel safer about using Google. I got emails and text messages telling me about the incident. I even went so far as to change my Gmail password though I suspected I didn’t need to. It’s something we should all do regularly anyway.

This morning when I logged in to my Chromebook I had to use the old password then in order to access local data I had to sign out of Google and reauthenticate with the new.  Whilst I was doing this it told me my local data was encrypted. I like all of this.

Now we have all heard recent revelations about the fact that supposedly the NSA can see all my data. We also know that Google sees it all because we get targeted ads based on our browsing habits and no doubt based on our sms messages (worth testing that one – we all probably have first hand experience of the former).

Governments should have the appropriate privacy checks and balances in place. Whether they do this is subject to debate. However I somehow don’t feel as uncomfortable with thinking that the NSA sees what I’m up to (this is not an endorsment) or even that Google sees what I’m up to (I choose to use their services because of the perceived benefits) compared with Facebook knowing what I’m up to.

Maybe this is irrational. Maybe it is not.

Funnily enough I even trust Skype more than I trust Facebook. I continue to use Facebook but feel that once a suitable alternative reaches a critical mass of my friends and family as subscribers I’ll be off.

In the meantime it might be worth considering which Apps you let have which permissions.

Ciao, ttfn, auf wiedersehen, au revoir, hwyl fawr, hasta la vista baby.

Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

3 replies on “Facebook intrusion continues #privacy #sms #calendar”

The facebook SMS thing caused outage back in Feb 2012.

I’ve not used the FB app since 2011 and it didn’t last on my phone long (mainly because back then I had an HTC desire and the poor old thing couldn’t cope with the FB App’s bloated size)

I stopped using Facebook completely about the same time. It’s an awful horrible place now.

This is exactly the topic we discussed before Xmas Tref.

More and more apps are requesting permissions which are unnecessary for the app to fully function.

These apps get uninstalled or are simply not used…

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