Facebook EMEA VP defends Messenger privacy

Social media firm’s regional boss clarifies app’s access requirements

Tags: Facebook IncorporationPrivacyUnited Arab Emirates
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Facebook EMEA VP defends Messenger privacy The iMessenger app compels Android users to give Facebook access to their phone’s contact list, photos, location and microphone. (Getty Images)
By  Courtney Trenwith Published  August 31, 2014

The head of Facebook in the Middle East has defended the social media site's new Messenger app that compels Android users to give the site access to the phone's contact list, photos, location and microphone.

The company introduced a standalone app for messaging in July, and made it compulsory in order to be able to send a message on a mobile device.

But the app's terms of service have attracted criticism that Facebook is attempting to impede privacy by requiring access to contacts and photos stored on the user's phone as well as access to the microphone and the ability to make phone calls without prior consent.

Vice-president Europe, the Middle East and Africa Nicola Mendelsohn told Arabian Business the condemnation was unwarranted but to be expected.

"I think whenever anything new comes out there's always a group of people that are not sure about it or worried about it or challenged by it," she told Arabian Business in an exclusive interview published in the magazine today.

"It comes back to knowing what people want to do and knowing what people are in charge of. That trust between people and Facebook is the single most important thing and we wouldn't do anything that would damage that trust.

"Why would we do that, because we know how much time people spend on it but we also know people are changing how they use Facebook, and messenger is an example of that. People showed us that actually it's better as a standalone app than it is within the main app, which is why more and more people are gravitating towards that."

Immediately following the launch of Messenger and the initial criticism, the company posted a response on its own Facebook page: "Keep in mind that Android controls the way the permissions are named, and the way they're named doesn't necessarily reflect the way the Messenger app and other apps use them."

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