Facebook for Android update brings silent upgrades bypassing Google Play

Facebook

The latest version of Facebook for Android tags along permissions to download updates automatically without having to connect to the Play store. Up until now, all official upgrades to apps have had to go through Google’s online store and it isn’t yet clear why this functionality has been added, besides the fact that it might be more convenient this way.

According to Liliputing, the Facebook app downloads the update without asking for permission to do so or the need to connect to the Google Play store, and then keeps beeping or vibrating until users install the new version or delete the app for good. This seemingly eliminates the middle-man and delivers the newest versions directly to users’ handsets.

This is yet another controversial matter that the social network finds itself embroiled in, the last being the backlash it faced when it attempted to modify its privacy statement. That caused quite a stir and aroused a lot of negative emotions among users of the SNS, but the company assured that a change was only being introduced in the language of the documents to make things easier for a layman to understand.

App Permission

Unfortunately this wasn’t the only time the company was portrayed in negative light. Last month we heard that the social networking giant was the target of a very sophisticated attack. It re-iterated that no sensitive customer data was compromised in the hack which originated from an affected website hosting a zero-day exploit.

We can go on and on about the waves the SNS has made of late, but let’s get back to the matter at hand, shall we? The image above shows the kind of access the app adds. It can be seen that among the new permissions granted is one which allows the app to download files without notifying the user.

There were concerns that this might be the effect of some kind of malware, especially considering that the site was targeted as we’ve mentioned above. But a thread on the company’s community forum pacifies such alarm, with a reply from Ragavan Srinivasan, a product manager at Facebook, suggesting that this is legitimate. The response also says that any downloads will only be reflected when connected to Wi-Fi and won’t rely on users’ data plans.

So it seems this update to Facebook for Android is not harmful, although it may prove a bit annoying. And where does that leave Google?