Facebook's Android app is watching you

News Stacy Warden 13:49, Jan 22 2013

Here's how Facebook for Android just became your number one stalker

Facebook has a tendency to make my stomach churn. Today was no exception. I'm having a perfectly fine morning, and then I see this:

Take a look at the image and read it again. What exactly does the language mean? Does it mean that Facebook's app can access your Android's camera and mic even when you're not actually using those features? It's too vague to tell, and I have yet to receive a clear answer on that, though I've learned in these situations it's typically best to assume the worst. 

At first I thought the whole thing was fake, until a tiny bit of research proved otherwise. In a slight fit of rage I told my colleagues about it. They weren't as concerned. One mentioned how these types of permissions are pretty regular, we just don't usually pay enough attention to notice them. He said that permissions like these exist in a ton of apps. And he's absolutely right. But that doesn't make it OK. 

"Common conditions" for Android, another colleague called the Facebook update. There was nearly a debate over whether these conditions should be so broad. That maybe we'd all just be a heck of a lot happier if we didn't know about this. Insert the old adage about bliss here.

I don't think these conditions should be kept a secret. And I'm bothered by the fact that even when they're this blatant, most folks using the apps either flip through them so fast they don't even notice, or they simply don't care.  

I'm not trying to change the world here. I'm not so naive to believe that my little rant about Facebook participating in dodgy marketing practices (and whatever the heck else it might be using our mass amounts of data for) is going to spark some sort of movement. But for the love of all things mobile, can we please start paying attention to the information we're willingly forking over? Can we please stop pretending like Facebook is a truly free service?

Let me be clear on something: I have an Android. I use the Facebook app on my Android. I don't plan on ditching it at all, because as my colleagues were so quick to note, there's no point. I'd have to can most of the apps running on my phone if I were that paranoid about my privacy. I've said it hundreds of times now, and I'll continue saying it: This all comes down to a matter of how you use your social networks (and maybe in this case your mobile devices).

Never share anything you wouldn't be comfortable showing the world. 

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Facebook Graph Search: How to avoid being stalked

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