Over the last several days, Facebook has been notifying users that they will only be able to message their friends and "the people you care about" — according to the app description on iTunes Store — via Facebook Messenger, the formerly optional external app the company rolled out in 2011.
And users are none too happy about it.
Facebook Messenger, now the top free app on iTunes, has 17,644 ratings and 13,369 reviews, and is averaging a lowly one star.
Though there is a sprinkling of good reviews, the majority of reviewers are upset by the mandatory download and have expressed concern over everything from space and usage issues related to downloading an additional application to general performance-related issues and, of course, privacy.
According to a Facebook spokeswoman, the concerns over privacy have been misguided by some inaccuracies in a December article in the Huffington Post titled "The Insidiousness of Facebook Messenger's Mobile App Terms of Service."
"The Huffington Post-contributed piece that started this meme is from December of last year," the Facebook spokeswoman said. "It's bubbling back up because of what we announced last week regarding the ability for people to send and read messages moving out of the main Facebook app and into Messenger. To be clear – nothing changed with that update regarding the permissions Messenger asks for. The Huffington Post piece incorrectly refers to Android app permissions as Messenger's Terms of Service. Two very different things."
Misguided or not — often the users most likely to leave reviews are those that would be particularly frustrated by smaller changes to the service — many users have turned to the iTunes store to air their grievances about the mandatory download.
"So there I was, pooping..."
"I don't want you sending messages to my girlfriend..."
"The noises are harsh and they hurt my ears."
"You're basically giving a stranger your phone..."
"BEWARE THE CHIP."
"This app is dumb as rocks."
Android reviews on the Google Play store are generally better than iTunes with an overall score of 4.1/5. Recent reviews since the forced migration are equally bad though.
But it's not all bad. There has been a small minority of reviewers (who are purportedly not Facebook employees) that have come to the defense of the app:
"Your life is not that important for anyone to listen in on."
"A lot of misinformed reviews"
"...I for one think you should all rethink your lives before you spend your time giving one star reviews on an app that is useful beyond measure."
Update: The Huffington Post issued the following correction to its article: " "A previous version of this post contained inaccurate and outdated information about Facebook's Messenger app for Android devices (Facebook has provided its own response to concerns about the app here). The post incorrectly equated the app's Terms of Service to its Android-specific permissions language, and the permissions language it originally quoted has since been updated by Google. These changes are now reflected in the post."
Johana Bhuiyan is a tech reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Bhuiyan reports on the sharing economy with a focus on ridesharing companies.
Contact Johana Bhuiyan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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