If you subscribe to our public relations agency newsletter– issued at the end of each month- then Facebook’s current fall from grace will be only too familiar by now. The last edition featured a social media marketing lead story on how the world’s largest social network is hurting businesses by restricting the number of fans that can see non-sponsored posts, and this week yet more stories have emerged that could further harm the level of trust in the platform.
As oppose to the aforementioned opinion piece we wrote, though, this time round the developments risk putting the average user off- rather than annoying the hell out of companies on the network. Nevertheless, without the public there’s no point in using Zuckerberg’s big idea as a firm, and so it could certainly pay to be aware of what’s happening.
Firstly, and as most people with an account may have noticed, a standalone Facebook Messenger app has been launched for mobile devices, which is designed to offer a more efficient and comprehensive instant messaging service, rather than the standard version which is integrated within the Facebook mobile app. But, unfortunately, despite more than 1,000,000,000 downloads to date, a significant backlash has begun as a result of those all-important Terms & Conditions everyone is forced to agree with before using the app.
Put simply, as per reports ranging from Cosmopolitan to Global News, once you download Facebook Messenger and open the app you have essentially given the powers that be the right to:
*Send unapproved text messages
*Record audio without prior approval
*Change the state of network connectivity
*Read you phone’s call log, including data regarding incoming and outgoing calls
*Read data relating to contacts stored in your address book.
According to The Huffington Post‘s Sam Fiorella, who described the app as ‘insidious’, the above represents just a handful of the ‘most aggressive’ terms people must agree with in order to use the app. Worse still, it’s now becoming harder to access instant messages via your mobile device without downloading this new add-on, such is the level of automatic prompts suggesting you switch to the new app.
Rather worryingly, at least for those in charge of Facebook’s PR, this isn’t the only bad press that has been circulating in the last few days. The latest in a long line of scams to sully the once-good name of the network has been exposed as a new ‘Facebook Colour Changer’ app, which claims to offer people the chance to alter the tone of their profile, but instead is really just a nasty way of questionable types covertly installing malicious software onto your computer, and then using that as a means to all kinds of illegal and unsavoury ends.
Researchers from Chinese digital security firm Cheeta mobile say that by clicking on the link to download this seemingly innocent tool takes people directly to a phishing web page, and, as a representative of said company was quoted in The Guardian: “This issue seems to be happening due to a vulnerability that lives in Facebook’s app page itself, allowing hackers to implant viruses and malicious code into Facebook-based applications directing users to phishing sites.???
Needless to say, the combination of increasing the level of data Facebook has access to, apparently glaring holes in the network’s own security systems, and a host of other issues people have previously taken with the top social site in the known universe- from inconceivably busy news feeds to problems adjusting privacy settings- does not make for a particularly good corporate image. As such we’ll be watching with interest to see how those in charge respond to these new and decidedly serious criticisms, which come at a time when patience is beginning to wear thin when it comes to the digital world invading our personal lives.