Facebook recently announced that it will be allowing users to send and receive SMS through the Android version of its Messenger communications app.
According to the social network, the feature will provide convenience to users by having all their conversations in one app, so that there will be no need to switch between apps when sending and receiving messages through Messenger and SMS.
However, it would seem that Messenger could find itself in trouble with the Google Play Store's policies, with Facebook perhaps trying too hard to get users to use the app for their SMS conversations.
As tweeted by The Information's Amir Efrati, the prompt that Messenger shows to users to inform them of the new feature could be considered a very aggressive one, specifically due to the prompt not showing a "no" option in activating the feature.
— Amir Efrati (@amir) June 20, 2016
The prompt only shows a blue "ok" button and a Settings link underneath. Without an obvious way to decline the activation of the feature, could this be in violation of Google Play rules?
Google Play has a policy against deceptive behavior in its apps, with one facet being that any changes that will be made to the Android device should be done with the knowledge and consent of the user.
Without a "no" option, users might think that tapping on the "ok" button will be fine. Doing so would have them go through the process of enabling the SMS feature on Messenger, which would make it the default app for SMS conversations on the device. Some users may tap the button and go through the process without knowing what the activation of the SMS feature on Messenger would entail.
There is a way to pass up on the offer to activate SMS for Messenger, and that is to tap on the Settings link. This would take the user to their device's Settings menu, and from there, they can decline the activation of the feature.
As long as the option to decline the feature is there, Facebook is not forcing users to use Messenger for SMS. However, because it is buried under the Settings option and not visible on the prompt, it could be seen by Google as a deceptive practice.
Both Facebook and Google have yet to make an official statement regarding the matter.
It is not surprising that Facebook is making a huge push for users to adopt SMS functionality for Messenger, as it would lead to higher usage rates and bigger monetization for the communications app. However, is the company to aggressive in its approach?