Over the last month or so, a few keen-eyed Android users may have been startled by some peculiar permission requests when they tried to update their Facebook app. One request asks to "read your text messages (SMS or MMS)."
That's not exactly the kind of language users are likely to find reassuring, especially after recent allegations that Facebook has been scanning private messages within the social network. So, Facebook is currently on a PR offensive to calm user fears. "We realize that some of these permissions sound scary," writes Facebook. "So we’d like to provide more info about how we use them ... If you add a phone number to your account, this allows us to confirm your phone number automatically by finding the confirmation code that we send via text message."
Make of those assurances what you will, and you can read more about the other permissions here. Indeed, as one Reddit user point out, Facebook has been asking for these SMS permissions for quite some time.
For what it's worth, Facebook isn't the first app to raise eyebrows for requesting information that some users might feel is overly intrusive. Angry Birds had some explaining to do when it asked to read to users' SMS texts in 2011. And Path on iOS similarly found itself in hot water a year ago when it was caught quietly collecting address books.
And remember: If Facebook's requests make you feel uncomfortable, and the benefits of having access to your social network in your pocket don't outweigh your anxieties (which is fair!), there is always the proverbial delete button.