It's Time To Ditch Facebook Chat

tl;dr I want to ditch Facebook Chat, and I want you to join me. Scroll to the bottom for my proposal.

Unfortunately, I've been stuck using Facebook Chat for the past year or two. This is mainly because:

  1. There's nothing better at the moment
  2. Nobody uses anything else

I've refused to use Facebook Chat on my phone. There's a really high chance that they're tracking almost every sensor on your phone on iOS. On Android, they're probably doing something similar; here's a list of permissions requested as of today:

  • Identity
    • find accounts on the device
    • read your own contact card
  • Contacts
    • read your contacts
  • Location
    • approximate location (network-based)
    • precise location (GPS and network-based)
  • SMS
    • edit your text messages (SMS or MMS)
    • receive text messages (SMS)
    • read your text messages (SMS or MMS)
    • send SMS messages
    • receive text messages (MMS)
  • Phone
    • directly call phone numbers
    • read call log
  • Photos / Media / Files
    • test access to protected storage
    • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
  • Camera
    • take pictures and videos
  • Microphone
    • record audio
  • Wi-Fi connection information
    • view Wi-Fi connections
    • Device ID & call information
    • read phone status and identity
  • Other
    • receive data from Internet
    • download files without notification
    • run at startup
    • send sticky broadcast
    • prevent device from sleeping
    • view network connections
    • install shortcuts
    • read battery statistics
    • change your audio settings
    • read Google service configuration
    • draw over other apps
    • full network access
    • read sync settings
    • control vibration
    • change network connectivity

Alright Facebook, why do you need all of that to send and receive Facebook messages? How is it not just network info and contact info? Why do you need access to EDIT my SMS?

While perusing Hacker News this morning, I found this article about Facebook Chat, and its deprecation of XMPP/Jabber support for their chat service.

To me, this means that I will no longer be using Facebook Chat as of April 2015. I need a new alternative.

The rest of our options look bleak.

This. Is. Stupid.

Requirements for running a chat service should be as follows:

  • Available on multiple platforms
  • Encrypted end-to-end communication
  • No third-party snooping on your conversations
  • Easily usable via 3rd party clients
  • No censorship

This isn't much to ask, is it? None of this sounds unreasonable.

Can we just collectively agree to make the move to something better? It's time for us to move away from Facebook Chat.

So here's the deal:

If 5 people comment below saying they'll join me, I will spend my winter holidays building a new service to replace Facebook chat. Relying on open source utilities, I'll set up a server and a web-based chat client, as well as instructions on how to set up clients on your mobile phone. Come January 1st, you will no longer need to use Facebook Chat. I'll cover the server costs, no questions asked.