Why Facebook Messenger Wants Access To Your Phone's Microphone

Email a Friend

There's an Infowars story that's beginning to circulate widely about a seemingly very Orwellian move by Facebook. 

Supposedly, the company now wants to listen in on our phone calls. This one's a good example of paranoia that misses the point.

Facebook's asking users who download its Messenger app to allow the app access to their phone's microphone at any time. Why would Facebook want to do something that sounds so creepy? Because Facebook's Messenger app is designed to let you make phone calls to your Facebook friends. Which it needs your microphone for.

That's why the other laundry list of permissions Facebook Messenger asks for actually aren't that egregious either. Here's Infowars

The TOS also authorizes Facebook to take videos and pictures using the phone’s camera at any time without permission, as well as directly calling numbers, again without permission, that could incur charges.

But wait, there’s more! Facebook can also “read your phone’s call log” and “read data about contacts stored on your phone, including the frequency with which you’ve called, emailed or communicated in other ways with specific individuals.”

Again, this all sounds very creepy, until you consider that the app wants to be able to replace your smartphone's actual functionality as a phone. So accessing your photos and videos lets the app text photos and videos to your friends. Similarly, access to your call logs and address books make sense when you consider that this is a phone app. 

There's certainly reasonable arguments for why you might not want to trust Facebook with your data. And it's entirely possible someone will turn up something genuinely discomfiting up in regards to this app. But this story isn't that.