Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Facebook's New Messenger Platform May Be The Last Straw For Me!

It is no secret that Facebook is looking to become all things mobile and in doing so they are looking to expand every aspect of not just their main site but their social add-ons like the standalone messenger application. Today at the company's F8 developer conference they announced a couple new projects involving the messenger platform which integrate even more services into the fold creating an even larger mobile foot-print for the company's platform.

First is the new Messenger Platform, which allows developers to integrate separate stand alone applications into the Facebook Messenger service. The new platform is meant to allow users to download third party add-ons for Facebook Messenger keeping you glued to Facebook while you share even more content from other sites. For instance, if you’d like to send a GIF with Giphy, attach an image with Imgur or send personalized stickers with JibJab, you no longer have to go to each website to complete these actions. Just download each app to work alongside the Facebook Messenger app, send it over to your friends or colleagues and you’re all set.

In addition to the Messenger Platform, Facebook also announced Businesses on Messenger. A more business oriented service, I take that as a potential advertising platform, that enables users to connect with businesses via messenger to do things like: receive receipts, track/cancel orders, and even have a conversation with the business regarding a recent order. The goal would seemingly be to replace a direct phone call, email or other online connection.

The new Businesses on Messenger platform will launch in the coming weeks with a limited number of partners. Of course, Facebook says you don’t have to receive your updates through Messenger or communicate with a a business, but the option will be there if both the business and user would like it.

Facebook's Growing Encroachment on Privacy

At the heart of it these subtle changes to the Facebook Messenger application seem to be fairly innocuous. Unfortunately from a privacy stand point that may not be so. The addition of third party apps, and inclusion of connections to businesses could poise several security issues and could open the door to several new privacy concerns.

As the social media giant continues to grow both it's mobile and advertising platforms we start to see lines being blurred.The company's 'all encompassing' approach could allow for further incursions into a users shopping habits, usage on outside sites and other areas they may not currently have.This access could lead to more acutely pinpointed advertising. It could also lead to more privacy concerns with potential for leaks or cross-platform hijacks.

My thoughts:
I for one have never been sold on the idea of allowing a single company to have total control and access to all of my online life. I tend to lend towards keeping my multiple platforms separate, not using Facebook or Gmail account log-ins as frequently as possible, not relying solely on a single use platform for email, messaging services ect. I've never been one to 'place all my eggs in one basket'. Call it the old school geek in me, but from a security stand point that has always been a traditional stance.

I wouldn't mind having better access and better communication with businesses I use. However, the thought of having to give up any further privacy to Facebook (or any other site) isn't one I'm open to. Neither is the idea of download multiple different add-ons to communicate with friends through messenger. I wasn't impressed with the changes Facebook made to the messenger app when they forced it on users as a standalone service. Nor am I convinced that Facebook Messenger privacy isn't a concern. These new changes will undoubtedly pave the way for more monetization efforts, which will also open the door to more ads and intrusions.

Therefore these new changes, as well as further growing concerns over my overall privacy within Facebook, may just be the last straw for this geek. I may have to let the Facebook ship sail and leave messenger in the past - probably where it belongs!

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