One of the tricks I recommended at the Dark Android Project that, if you REALLY still want to use Facebook on your mobile device, the first thing you can try is to use the mobile website. It has tons of advantages:
- You don’t have to download the Facebook app which can take up a lot of storage space.
- It saves battery life and data since the Facebook app is a massive drain on the battery, and on your data plan (and if you don’t believe me, I wonder why Facebook is now offering a “Use Less Data” option in their app now?).
- If you don’t use the Google Play Store or the iOS App Store, you could still access Facebook PM’s through your web browser.
- Years ago, Facebook removed Messenger from the main app and forced you to download the standalone Facebook Messenger app which has an atrocious amount of permissions, including the permission to make calls and texts for you (dead serious). With the mobile site, it was still “all in one”.
That last one is probably the primary reason many people switched to using the mobile website, and it makes sense. Having to use two apps to do the same thing you do all at once on the desktop site doesn’t make sense, and creates confusion between platforms, and just straight-up inefficiency (the inefficiency point was also recognized by Facebook, and that’s why they added a button in the Facebook app that shortcuts to the Messenger app). The whole situation makes it painfully obvious that Facebook doesn’t care about what people actually want, they want you to use it how and why they want you to use it.
And now they are rubbing that fact in quite a bit more: It’s a good bet that the time is coming where the Facebook mobile site will NOT allow you to use the Messenger tab. They’re effectively already blocking it:I think that’s a portent of what’s to come. That is Facebook telling you that if you’re using the mobile website for Messaging, you’re not going to be able to do that for much longer (granted, this is not set in stone).
First off, let’s understand why–in my opinion–Facebook was allowing for this at all on the mobile website, and it comes down to developing countries. In those markets where lower-end phones and slower data speeds are the norm, a mobile website is far more viable than the very bloated Facebook apps. But this purpose for the mobile site is no longer necessary since Facebook has the “Facebook Lite” app available in those markets in various app stores. With Facebook Lite taking off very well in those parts of the world (it’s technically not available in the USA and some others), the mobile website is no longer necessary.
Second, let’s understand why Facebook made Messenger a separate app, and why they want everyone using it. The reasons for both are the same: Facebook knows that Messenger is the actual future of the company, not Facebook. Considering how Facebook is experiencing what they call “content collapse” (no one’s posting unique things anymore), they are not experiencing a collapse in the use of Private Messaging. When you look at massively successful “social networks” in other parts of the world–WeChat in China, LINE Messenger in Japan and elsewhere (which has almost 1 billion users)–they are nothing like Facebook, but are everything like Facebook Messenger (and let’s be clear, Facebook is copying those other companies, Facebook is not innovating). Messaging apps are the future, and I agree with that assessment. When you consider Dunbar’s Number (the idea that you can only have 15-250 meaningful relationships in your life), getting away from interacting with the entire world that the Facebook News Feed allows for and going towards smaller circles in Messaging and Groups makes sense (and this is also likely why Facebook created a separate Facebook Groups app, too).
Another reason that the mobile website is becoming passe is because of the addition of various bots in Facebook Messenger, as well as aspects of AI, Facebook M assistant, and other things…yes, it does need an entire separate app to take advantage of all the features that Messenger provides (and likely this will also be true for the desktop site in the future, probably why there is a separate Facebook Messenger website). So I get it why they’re doing this, but…
I’m still totally sceeved out by the permissions that Facebook wants on my phone. I’m still pissed off at how much data their apps suck off. And the inefficiency of separating the functions of the platform into apps is ludicrous. And I do worry about the privacy concerns around Facebook Messenger and Facebook in general (though there are reports that Facebook will be adding end-to-end encryption to the Messenger app in the future, but that’s a discussion for another time).
And maybe you are, too, and you still don’t want to install the Facebook Messenger app.
If so, there are a couple of solutions, and neither of them are perfect. The first solution is to use the aforementioned Facebook Messenger separate website on your mobile device, but that site only works if you set the site to “desktop”, which means that unless you’re using a tablet, this is going to be a pain to use on smaller screens. So that’s not really a solution for most.
The second solution is to use the Facebook Lite app. I’ve talked about how to do this before (read about how at this link, please), and the Facebook Lite app does largely solve all of the problems that the mobile website was solving. It’s lightweight, doesn’t have crazy permissions, and it still has private messaging built into it, no separate Messenger app required. There is a trick to getting it installed if you’re within the USA and some other countries, but it is possible to do (though you still need the Google Play Store in the end). There are other “website wrapper” apps (which means they are just apps that emulate the mobile site) which can be found at F-Droid and other app repositories, but likely these will no longer be serviceable for private messaging once the mobile website removes the function entirely. The Facebook Lite app is really the only viable option, in my opinion, outside of using the official Facebook Messenger app.
But there’s always a third option. There’s always the “third way”, and often it’s usually the right one. The third option here is to just delete your Facebook account and never use Facebook again, Messenger or otherwise. Remember, the use of Facebook is still largely voluntary (for now), and I applaud the people that don’t use it.
Bottom line, Facebook is making it increasingly difficult to use their services outside of the way that they want you to (and really, their ways weren’t created for greater security or anything, so it’s not like there’s a particularly good consumer-facing reason why they force these “options” upon you). As a business, fine, they can do that. They can setup their platform however they want. But as I say on my tech podcast, Sovryn Tech, all the time: As a consumer, you don’t have to like it, you don’t have to take it, and you don’t have to use it. There are much better options out there, anyways.