Facebook is getting a bit too cosy with our smartphones. It already has a good portion of our social networking time and our messaging, and it's making a play for payments too.
Now inventors of the liking stuff want to take over your phone calls, with an app imaginatively titled Phone. Facebook isn't even certain if it'll be releasing the app, but that obviously hasn't stopped the internet wringing its hands about the possibilities.
All that's confirmed so far is that it's an Android dialler app that will "show you info about who is calling and automatically blocks calls from commonly blocked numbers."
Facebook is pushing the dialler app with the idea it'll block sales calls and those infuriating PPI claim calls we all see to get on a weekly basis. Great news for everyone.
Not having to deal with those kind of cold callers would likely cause the world to have a Return Of The Jedi-esque Ewok party – no-one is going to be disappointed with the notion of losing that infuriating annoyance.
But what if Facebook screws it up? What if a commonly blocked number turns out to be someone I actually want to speak to?
If my mobile phone network's official line is dubbed a nuisance call they could try to contact me and I'll never know as Facebook has decided to play parent and censor my calls before it reaches my phone.
If Facebook's Phone takes over as the main dialler all my phone calls will be fed through it, but then where does that information go?
It suddenly makes that scene in The Dark Knight where with Lucius Fox has access to every phone in Gotham seem substantially less unlikely.
The question is who gets my call information. Facebook exists to sell my information on – I've come to terms with that – but I don't want to add my phone call log into the room-filling pile of details the white and blue F already has on me.
Zuckerberg already has my name, location, interests, sex, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, relationship status and what I had for breakfast at his fingertips. Does he also need to know how often I call my mum?
Facebook has just under 1.4 billion users, and a lot of them have entered their phone number at one time or another, especially after being asked for it when downloading the Messenger app.
That means Facebook's very own Blue Pages directory is already bursting at the seams with contact numbers.
It would be useful to see who is calling me without even being friends with them – just because I don't have someone on Facebook it doesn't mean I'm not a friend or acquaintance in real life.
Then again, how often would that actually prove useful? Most of the people I contact on a regular basis are already in my contact list on my phone whether we are connected on Facebook or not.
And surely contacting someone who hasn't got Facebook or has chosen to keep their number separate to their account will add those details into the Blue Pages directly as well. So it's not just my contact details here, it's the privacy of everybody I contact at stake as well.
Security smartarses might be tempted to suggest "just don't enter their name or other details" at this point – but how many phone numbers do you know off by heart in the year 2015? Privacy is a much bigger deal to me than knowing I'll be blocking the odd call from unwanted numbers, and I don't want Zuckerberg's crew grabbing my number through someone else's account.
I'd rather deal with the odd chat with Mike about PPI than give Facebook even more of my personal information.
- Here's Facebook's plan to take on WhatsApp.
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