You should stop using Facebook Messenger until it proves it's worthy of your trust

  • Facebook Messenger is one of the most popular messaging apps, with 1.2 billion users.
  • That huge audience makes it extremely useful - your friends and family probably use it - but it also means that Messenger doesn't need to fight for your trust.
  • It's time to change that. 

There's no shortage of ways to text your friends and family for free. You can choose from WhatsApp, Skype, Google Hangouts, Signal, Telegram, Skype, Apple's iMessage, or literally scores of other options.
But the messaging app you're probably using is the worst choice. 
Facebook Messenger is a juggernaut, with more than 1.2 billion users. Chances are your family and friends have it installed on their phones. That makes it incredibly useful - after all, the value of any messaging app is directly tied to how many of your contacts also use it.
And that's exactly the problem with Messenger. The app takes its massive user (based in large part on its legacy as Facebook's built-in messaging tool) for granted. As revelations over the past weeks and months have made clear, Facebook has its own set of rules for your Messenger inbox. Whether or not you like those rules is irrelevant.
For Messenger, users are essentially a captive audience rather than customers that it feels the need to satisfy and fight for. 

Messenger needs to earn your trust

In many ways, your private messages sent through Facebook are property of Facebook. Menlo Park can scan the photos and links you send, hand them over to the cops, and even delete some messages from inside your inbox without your permission.
Naturally, while it's scanning your messages, Messenger is also collecting loads of data on you, including your call and text history from outside of Messenger. It stopped doing this in March after it was widely publicized. Facebook's on-the-record defense? You gave it permission. 
It's time to take that permission away. 
Given there are so many other messenger services, there simply is no reason to continue to use Messenger. Delete it from your phone, turn it off, and choose a different free app that's not going to violate your trust. 

Lack of trust

To hear Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg talk about scanning people's messages, you'd get the impression that he's running some kind of terrorism police that's making the world better - starting with a sectarian conflict in Myanmar.
"I remember, one Saturday morning, I got a phone call and we detected that people were trying to spread sensational messages through - it was Facebook Messenger in this case - to each side of the conflict, basically telling the Muslims, 'Hey, there's about to be an uprising of the Buddhists, so make sure that you are armed and go to this place.' And then the same thing on the other side," Zuckerberg said in an interview with Vox this week. 
"Now, in that case, our systems detect that that's going on. We stop those messages from going through," he continued. (Myanmar NGOs say that Facebook didn't detect the messages, and that the warning Zuckerberg received was actually from civil society groups.) 
While preventing ethnic violence across the world may be a valid reason to scan Messenger emails, a more recent news story underscores that Facebook executives and officials have increased "god mode" access to their services, and use that power to do shady things that normal users have no idea about.
Several people who have chatted with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg say that when they checked their conversations later, all of Zuckerberg's messages had been deleted, according to TechCrunch. 
So when these people looked at their conversations with Facebook, only their messages remained. It looked like they were talking to themselves. 
This isn't a feature in Messenger - it's exclusively available to Facebook executives and officials - but after it was caught Facebook said it was in "full compliance with our legal obligations" and said it would add an unsend feature for everyone at some point. 
It's a breach of trust in the social network. So, two items:
  • Facebook executives have special powers, including (but not limited to) deleting messages that  its powerful executives previously sent. 
  • Facebook has the ability to scan or read the content of your messages if it likes.

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