Facebook Messenger: Forced App Download Is A Big No


In all the years that I’ve used Facebook, I’ve never once complained about their UI changes. Even when they seemed bizarre at first, I embraced them and adapted, because no one was forcing me to use the app, and I grew to love the changes over time.

For the first time since 2005 when I started using Facebook, they have royally ticked me off.

I went to check my messages on my phone yesterday, and was denied access to my messages area. There was just an overly cheery looking screen that said, we’ve moved to Facebook Messenger, download the app. There was no way to close the message, there was no option to decline.

I have purposely NOT downloaded the Facebook Messenger app since its launch. I do not use push notifications on my phone. I do not want my day to be interrupted by messages flashing up on my screen. I have the badge icons turned off for a majority of my apps because I like to control my experience. When I feel I have time to check my messages, I open the app of choice, and I check my messages and respond. When I need a mental break from whatever project I’m working on during lunch break, I whip out my phone and check Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

The messenger app added absolutely zero value to my Facebook experience because of my usage habits, hence my avoidance of downloading the thing.

Yesterday when I realized I was going to be FORCED to download the app in order to view my messages on my phone, I was furious. The I read the app’s privacy policy and was absolutely appalled. For anyone who downloaded the app without viewing it, glance through it today.

I had an extremely negative user experience for the first time in 9 years. I will not be installing the messenger app, I’ll be checking my messages from my desktop, which is an enormous inconvenience.

My phone is my personal device. I control every aspect of it. The experience felt like a forced invasion of my personal space.

Forcing end users to download an app, or lose access to a heavily used feature, is a horrible business practice in general, but the awful UI is even worse. Having to flip back and forth between the 2 apps gives the experience a VERY Windows 8 feel. It’s like having 2 interfaces smashed together in an extremely awkward way.

I’m extremely disappointed in Facebook’s decision to force the app download. Obviously, I’m one person in billions of users, it’s not going to bother them in any way from a corporate stance, but my brand trust, and trust in their design decisions in general just tanked. It makes me sad.

3 thoughts on “Facebook Messenger: Forced App Download Is A Big No

  1. It is still really an unacceptable move by the company.
    Having downloaded messenger and used it for a mere 48 hours I have now uninstalled BOTH messenger and Facebook itself.
    I would prefer to keep FB … but the app isn’t critical and it isn’t worth accepting messenger to keep it. I won’t be back.

  2. I think you can still download the messenger app and disable its notifications, so it won’t affect your (great) decision of not having life interrupted by annoying messages on your screen.

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