Send and receive Facebook messages on your phone, WITHOUT FB Messenger

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It seems like Facebook is always involved with some type of controversy, and it usually involves the violation of the privacy of Facebook users.  Of course, if you don’t like Facebook’s data collection practices, you can always just cancel your account (see last week’s blog about how to do that).  The latest issue has to do with the Facebook Messenger app that works on a smartphone.

Facebook Messenger


If you’re on Facebook, you have probably heard the recent uproar over the privacy settings on the Facebook Messenger app.  This is the little app that goes on your smartphone that allows you to send and receive Facebook messages with other users.  If you want to use that app, you have to agree to the terms that Facebook puts on it, including giving Facebook permission to have access to a variety of areas on your smartphone.

For Android phones, it wants access to your contact list, the phone’s calendar, your GPS location and your phone’s camera and microphone.  That’s quite a takeover!  For iPhone users I don’t think it’s quite as intrusive but I’m not sure since I don’t use an iPhone.

I’m not going to go into the whole debate about how much information is too much for Facebook to require or if the permissions they need on your phone are excessive.  I will say this though – I removed Facebook Messenger from my phone.

It’s important to note that there is a difference between the Facebook app on your phone, and Facebook Messenger.  The Facebook app lets you see your newsfeed and the stuff your friends are posting, and it’s what you use to make your own posts and check in from wherever you happen to be.  Previously, you could also send and receive Facebook messages from within that app.  Now, you can only send and receive Facebook messages from your phone if you use the separately-installed Facebook Messenger.  And that’s where all the permission requirements are.

Oh, but there is one other way, although it’s kind of a hassle. You can access Facebook on your phone the same way you do at home: just open the Facebook website through a web browser. You do this just like you open any other website on your phone.

But that means you are viewing the Facebook site through the tiny screen on your phone.  Yes, you can send and receive messages that way, but it’s a pain.

Hang on, I have the (almost) perfect solution. Here’s what I did:

  1. Uninstall Facebook Messenger from my phone
  2. Uninstall the Facebook app from my phone
  3. Install the Tinfoil for Facebook app

Tinfoil for Facebook


Tinfoil for Facebook is a free app.  It only requires a couple of minor permissions (Internet and Coarse Location) and it works ALMOST identically to the regular Facebook app.  You can also send and receive Facebook messages from it.

The way it works is by accessing the Facebook website – just like your phone’s web browser does.  Except the app takes the information from the site and rearranges it so that it looks just like the Facebook app.  All of the data is easy to view and using the app is very intuitive. You’ll see when you try it out.

There is one difference, that I have not yet been able to resolve. When someone sends you a Facebook message, you don’t get the old notification “ding” like Facebook Messenger provides. So if you are expecting a message from someone, you will need to check it manually to see if it’s come in yet.  For me, that’s not a deal killer anyway. If someone needs to reach me, I would rather they call or email. And if someone does send me a message through Facebook, I’ll see it the next time I’m on my computer. If you know of a way to make Facebook for Tinfoil automatically notify about messages, please put it in the Comments section below.

I’ve been pretty happy with this app so far.  It wouldn’t surprise me if Facebook comes up with a way to keep the app from working, since it circumvents their marketing strategies.  But for now it’s working fine, and Facebook isn’t squirming around my phone like bedbugs in a cheap motel.

Tinfoil for Facebook

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