Today, I write because I have a gripe with a certain piece of software that I installed the other day. Namely, the Facebook Messenger app for iOS, in it’s updated incarnation that matches the UI design of iOS 7.
Now, the design itself is pretty good, I like the flat elements and the paring down of the coloration, but there is one massive thing that I hate about it: the removal of user choice and further intrusion into your privacy and mindspace. This massive thing is actually further carved up to little changes that I will proceed to list.
1. Whenever you open a chat with anyone, it has an ‘Invite’ button in the upper-right corner of the screen that sends a message to the person with a link to use the Facebook Messenger app. This feels useless and tacky, as it not only pushes Facebook’s services onto everyone, but it also appears for people who are talking to you THROUGH the official Facebook app (the one that allows you to browse the entirety of Facebook). What gives, Facebook?
2. It is impossible to disable notifications permanently through the application itself. There’s an option to disable messages but it only works for either an hour or until 8am the next day, which feels like a ridiculously arbitrary limitation to options. Whatever, it’s not like I want options anyway.
3. Facebook nags you to give it access to your actual phone contacts, which it will then scan to find people you can message even if you aren’t friends with them. This really isn’t necessary. If I wanted to message someone, I would be their friend, either by searching for them or using Facebook’s handy Friend Finder service. It’s literally *that* simple.
4. It also has two ways to ‘Add a phone number’ to your account in the app’s settings, either via the edit button or the ‘Add a phone number’ link that is below your profile in the app settings. Desperate, much?
5. The most annoying of them all is Facebook’s absolute insistence that you are notified of every single message you get on Facebook regardless of whether you want them or not. With iOS 5, Apple introduced a unified notification system that all notifications would redirect to. They also included the option to disable app notifications at an OS level, an important freedom of choice that ultimately liberates the user from having to receive notifications for apps. Because maybe they don’t need to see them all the time. Apparently, though, Facebook has decided that this OS level function is only a silly feature, and includes a check and splash screen EVERY TIME YOU OPEN THE APPLICATION to see if you’ve disabled OS-level notifications for Messenger, imploring you to enable the notifications. This benefits Facebook, because having a notification makes it more likely the user will open the app there and then, and thus spend more time in the app, giving Facebook even more data and so on and so forth.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I like the Messenger app, because it’s faster and uses less RAM than the Facebook app, and is less intrusive for simple messages. But these little niggles really aggravate me and are an obvious ploy to pull you even more into the Facebook ecosystem.