Facebook pressures users to set Messenger as the default texting app with confusing prompt

facebook messenger day holiday update 1
Facebook likes to get its way — even if that means forcing users to download spin-off apps or use new features. Just about a week after the social network reintroduced the option to make Messenger the default SMS texting app on users’ devices, the company is in trouble for pushing its users to use Messenger instead of their normal SMS app.

Several users have reported seeing a pop-up message on their phone when they open Messenger that asks them if they want to make the change. Rather than giving users the option to simply accept or dismiss the pop-up prompt to set Messenger as the default SMS app, it only offers OK and Settings as options.

Settings is a rather self-explanatory term, it brings you to the settings menu where you’re able to switch the SMS integration on or off. But OK doesn’t provide a proper explanation as to what it does, and users noticed that clicking it set Messenger as the default app instead of dismissing the prompt for later. Clicking the back button sends users back to their home screen.

Messenger today has more than 900 million active users, and while it’s unclear exactly how many received the prompt, we’ve seen it here at Digital Trends, as have a number of other people.

Amir Efrati of the Information caused a ruckus on Twitter when he tweeted a screenshot of the pop-up prompt. He argues that the tactic may be in violation of the Play Store policies set up by Google, since they prohibit “deceptive device settings changes.” Following that same policy, the Messenger SMS push could be classified as misleading, because it tricks “users into removing or disabling third-party apps or modifying device settings or features.”

Following the tweet, a large number of people responded and confirmed similar experiences. A Twitter account with the username Robert Cathles said he received the pop-up several times.

In response to the criticism, Facebook sent out a statement to calm down its users. The social network giant didn’t admit to any wrongdoing, it simply provided instructions on how to change the settings via the Messenger app.

“SMS in Messenger is an optional feature. People can choose whether or not they wish to use it,” Facebook said. “When they first see the prompt, they can choose to start seeing their SMS messages in Messenger by turning on the feature, or they can decide not to by tapping Settings. If they decide to see SMS messages in Messenger and to also reply to messages from Messenger, we’ll ask people to approve any new device permissions that are required. Messenger doesn’t modify any device settings without people agreeing to it.”

Since then, the prompt has disappeared from our apps, but it’s unclear if some users are still seeing it. Considering the backlash, though, it wouldn’t be surprising if Facebook has changed the prompt across the board. But even if it has, potentially millions of users could have changed their settings unwittingly.

Facebook’s decision to prompt users to set Messenger as the default SMS app has two obvious benefits: The first one is that by simply merging regular SMS messages with Messenger, the social media giant keeps users inside of its app ecosystem for longer periods of time, the second is that it can preemptively steal users from other messaging apps. Users who aren’t too attached to their dedicated SMS apps may be okay with the switch, but for other app developers, it’s a poisonous move, especially due to the potentially huge amount of people that have received the prompt.


Data stolen from HealthCare.gov includes partial SSNs and immigration status

Around 75,000 users have had their user data stolen from government site healthcare.gov, including information on their immigration status, whether they were pregnant, and partial social security numbers.

The 100 best Android apps turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

Choosing which apps to download is tricky, especially given how enormous and cluttered the Google Play Store has become. We rounded up 100 of the best Android apps and divided them neatly, with each suited for a different occasion.

These 100 best iPhone apps will turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world, and we want to bring out the best in yours. Behold our comprehensive list of the best iPhone apps, from time-saving productivity tools to fun apps you won’t be able to put down.

Be at your most productive with these Slack tips and tricks

Slack is an common means of communication in the workplace, but how do you use some of the app's lesser-known features to get the most out of your experience? Here's what you need to know to stay organized, efficient, and entertained.
Social Media

Snapchat’s PR firm is suing an influencer for failing to influence

Snapchat's PR firm is suing a social media influencer for his alleged failure to promote Spectacles on Instagram. Actor Luka Sabbat was paid $45,000 upfront, but the suit claims he fell well short of the terms of the deal.

Urban legends for the digital age: The best scary stories from the internet

In need of some simple scares this Halloween? We've combed the internet for the best creepypastas, urban legends, and scary stories. From found footage YouTube videos to a deceptively scary wiki, these stories are sure to spook.

WhatsApp finally gives in to the lure of cash-generating ads

WhatsApp's co-founders always said their messaging app would never show ads, but once the pair quit the company, it seemed inevitable that its owner, Facebook, would find a way to incorporate them.

Shazam hooks up with Instagram Stories for another way to share songs

The latest update for Apple-owned Shazam lets iPhone users share music tracks to Instagram Stories in a few quick taps. To enable the feature, just make sure you have the latest version of Shazam loaded on your handset.
Social Media

Dine and dash(board): Make a Yelp reservation from your car’s control panel

Already in the car, but can't decide where to eat? Yelp Reservations can now be added to some dashboard touchscreens. Yelp Reservations searches for restaurants within 25 miles of the vehicle's location.

Hackers sold 120 million private Facebook messages, report says

Up to 120 million private Facebook messages were being sold online by hackers this fall. The breach was first discovered in September and the messages were obtained through unnamed rogue browser extensions. 

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. You're in luck -- we've gathered 23 of the best subreddits to help…
Social Media

Facebook opens pop-up stores at Macy’s, but they’re not selling the Portal

Facebook has opened pop-up stores at multiple Macy's, though they're not selling Facebook's new Portal device. Instead, they're showcasing small businesses and brands that are already popular on Facebook and Instagram.
Social Media

Facebook Messenger will soon let you delete sent messages

A feature coming to Facebook Messenger will let you delete a message for up to 10 minutes after you send it. The company promised the feature months ago and this week said it really is on its way ... "soon."
Social Media

Pinterest brings followed content front and center with full-width Pin format

Want to see Pinterest recommendations, or just Pins from followed users? Now Pinners can choose with a Pinterest Following feed update. The secondary feed eliminates recommendation and is (almost) chronological.