What Small Businesses Can Learn From Controversy Brewing Around Facebook Messenger App
Facebook has been receiving media attention lately for both it’s decision to put an end to the practice of “like gating” content, as well as the announcement that they are going to remove chat support from their mobile app, forcing those who wish to use Facebook chat on their phones to either download their dedicated messenger app or chat through their mobile browser version of the site.
What are the controversial permissions Facebook’s app is requesting? The list of permissions the app requests is a long one, essentially asking for the ability to remotely operate a person’s smartphone. They include:
- Permission to operate a camera to shoot photo or video remotely.
- Permission to call contacts stored on a phone.
- Permission to record sound.
- Permission to receive and read texts, including any that may include personal information.
- Permission to read all contact information stored on a phone.
What does this mean for business owners? While Facebook states that they don’t intend to use these permissions for anything more than maintaining the essential functions of the app, the fact remains that if they did want to use the permissions granted to them in the future, they certainly could. For business owners, whose contacts are often hard won and very important to their business operations, the idea that anyone but themselves could contact them using their device is one that could very rightly make them nervous. If there are contacts who they stay in touch with primarily using Facebook, it may be time to consider taking the conversation to a different venue.
What can business owners take away from this? Business owners can often learn a lot from the moves of major corporate entities, and this one is no exception. Should business owners be in the process of developing apps for their business should think carefully about the permissions they will be demanding from customers, as the more they ask for, the more skeptical their customers are likely to become. Gathering data through market research is an essential part of managing a business, but when a business begins to become invasive, that’s when issues can arise that may alienate customers.
Photo Credit to Kārlis Dambrāns on Flickr