Facebook Messenger Privacy Debate
Facebook's Messenger app for mobile devices, once an optional, external app that allowed users to chat with friends and family outside the mobile Facebook interface, is now a required download for iPhone and Android users. Though this move that renders users unable to send or recieve Facebook messages through their mobile devices without the app is incredibly unpopular, the biggest complaint (and why it has only received an average of 1 star out of nearly 20,000 reviews) has to do with privacy.
According to an outline of some of the Facebook permisssions required for the Android version, the Facebook Messenger app can:
Read your contacts.
Modify your contacts.
Add or modify calendar events and send email to guests without owner's knowledge.
Read, edit, and send text messages from your phone.
Record audio and video.
The majority, however, clearly do care- with almost 20,000 negative reviews, users are upset at the "forced" download. "I refuse to download an app that takes up so much extra space on my phone when I already had an app that did the same exact thing as this one," wrote a reviewer. "I refuse to give Facebook permission to access my microphone or camera at their will. If they only needed the camera to take photos within the app and only needed the microphone for use with the app, they would not word their 'privacy' statement to say they can access it when they feel like it... Facebook has over-stepped boundaries and needs to be put in its place."
The Daily Dot's Mike Wehner wrote that all these permissions aren't as insidious as they seem, however. "The app has legitimate reasons for each request, and you have no reason to panic." They may seem creepy when worded as, “This permission allows allows the app to use the camera at any time without your confirmation,” but it also doesn't mean that your camera will be manned remotely by super spies attempting to glean insight into your daily life. It's just asking to access the camera without having to prompt you each time.
So no, it's not a practice in social espionage, but for sure the implications of the amount of data we wittingly (or unwittingly) share through our phones are daunting. Many people are saying it's time to stand up and say "no," but plenty of others see this exchange of information as part and parcel of the growing mobile landscape.
What do you think? Are we giving too much personal data away for the ease and convenience of mobile applications? Or is it a small but necessary sacrifice for all the benefits we get from mobile technology?
Tourism Marketing in Vermont
According to a recent Vermont Tourism and Recreation survey, word of mouth is by far the most significant factor tourists make when deciding to visit Vermont.
Surveyed on July 24th, the University of Vermont Tourism Research Center developed questionnaires for visitors passing through Vermont visitor centers, state parks, and attraction sites to provide data to promote growth of the state's tourism economy. Small local businesses can benefit from all this great demographic information, providing insights into what visitors do and whether or not they plan on returning.
The biggest suprise in the survey was what influenced their decision to visit Vermont- towering above all other variables like magazines, radio, TV, and social media, it was word of mouth from friends and family that snagged a whopping 62.1% of respondents. While planning for the trip, websites and print media became the most important variables.
Where does that put Vermont small businesses? While relevant, engaging websites were as always a huge factor in information gathering, it's important to remember the importance of Vermont's long-standing history of memorability due to our small-town feel. Close relations, friendly atmospheres, and genuine caring about our customers' experiences resonate from person to person, giving our state a heady reputation for warmth and neighborliness that ensures repeat visitors year after year.