Warning: *privacy not included with this product
Facebook Messenger (and Facebook Messenger Kids)
Review date: 09/08/2021
What could happen if something goes wrong
With Facebook-owned apps we always worry there is a good deal that could go wrong. Facebook has a long history of not handling people's personal data with care. In 2019, Facebook confirmed a report that it hired contractors to read and transcribe audio messages users sent through Messenger and Facebook. And earlier in 2021, the personal data of over 500 million Facebook users--information like phone numbers, Facebook IDs, full names, locations, birthdates, bios, and, in some cases, email addresses--was publicly posted on a hacker forum. Facebook says it doesn't use the content of messages to choose which ads to show you. But Facebook makes no such claim about the other types of insights tucked inside your messaging app — who you're speaking to, when you speak to them, and other types of metadata. Facebook sucks up a great deal of this type of data to use for ad targeting and reserves the right to share it with numerous third parties. There are no ads served to kids in Facebook Messenger and Facebook claims they don’t use data from the Messenger Kids app for ads in their other apps. It does still collect children’s data though, so be wary, as you’re trusting Facebook with information about your young children. Also, Facebook markets the Messenger Kids app to children under the age of 13, so parents who let their young children use Facebook Messenger Kids should pay close attention to what their kids share. All in all, if you do decide to use Facebook Messenger, it’s probably best to assume nothing you say or do is actually private.
Can it snoop on me?
What is required to sign up?
Third party account
Either email or phone number are required.
What data does it collect?
The people or accounts you interact with and the time, frequency and duration of activities; the content of communications.
How does it use this data?
How can you control your data?
What is the company’s known track record for protecting users’ data?
In August 2019, Bloomberg reported that Facebook hired contractors to transcribe audio messages users sent through Messenger and Facebook confirmed the report. In April 2021, it was reported that there was a personal data leak of about 533 million Facebook users from 106 countries, including over 32 million records on users in the US, 11 million on users in the UK, and 6 million on users in India. It includes their phone numbers, Facebook IDs, full names, locations, birthdates, bios, and, in some cases, email addresses. In January 2021, Google Project Zero security researcher Natalie Silvanovich discovered a logic bug in Messenger that would allow audio or video to be transmitted without user consent. The bug was promptly fixed.
Can this product be used offline?
User friendly privacy information?
Links to privacy information
Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards?
Messenger uses encryption but does not use end-to-end encryption by default. People using the Messenger app on iOS and Android can opt-in to "Secret Conversations" that do use end-to-end encryption for text, audio, and video chats. As for end-to-end encryption by default, here's what the company says, "While we expect to make more progress on default end-to-end encryption for Messenger and Instagram Direct this year, it's a long-term project and we won't be fully end-to-end encrypted until sometime in 2022 at the earliest."
Messenger requires a strong password to login. However, calls cannot be password-protected.
Facebook has a bug bounty program
Does the product use AI?
Does the AI use your personal data to make decisions about you?
Does the company allow users to see how the AI works?
Facebook employs "artificial intelligence to identify unusual behavioral patterns correlated with phishing, scamming, and other harmful activities to remove them from the platform."