If You Must Use Facebook on Android…Do It with This App
At the Dark Android Project, I generally recommend that you don’t use Facebook at all (it’s one of two companies–Alphabet/Google and Facebook–that Edward Snowden warned to get away from). There. Got that out of the way. But if you do want to use Facebook for whatever reason, and on your Android device in particular, I generally recommend just using their mobile site. But I’ve recently tested out a more “feature-rich” way of running Facebook on your Android device without having to install the bloated and ridiculous Facebook app, or the Facebook Messenger app for that matter.
But before I get into that, again, I generally recommend using the website. In fact, if you want to be all DAPS about it, you could use the Orfox web browser with Orbot (for Tor) activated, and Orfox already has a built-in link for the official Tor version of the Facebook website. Or you could just use Firefox and access the Facebook mobile site if you don’t want to go that far.
And there are many good reasons to use the mobile site instead of Facebooks various apps:
- In a strange move (but one that makes nefarious sense in a “build-a-platform and take on the LINE app” way), Facebook removed Private Messaging functionality from the main Facebook app and forces you to use the Messenger app for that. The mobile website still has everything in one simple interface, no extra apps (with horrendous permissions, I might add) required.
- The Facebook app in particular (the Messenger app less so) is a massive data and battery hog. And it’s heavy too, weighing in at half of 1GB of storage necessary. And if you have a phone with not a lot of storage, limited data, or a not so great battery, the Facebook app is a nail in your coffin. Using the mobile website eliminates these issues.
- You know their apps are tracking you. All. Of. The. Time. While the mobile website certainly does its fair share of tracking, it’s very easy to just close the website.
And while what I’m about to recommend to you doesn’t really solve #3 the way the mobile site does, it does solve a couple of the disadvantages that come with using the mobile website on an Android platform. And the main disadvantage of just using the mobile site is inability to use Android’s “share” functionality. If you have a picture in your gallery app, let’s say, you can’t just share it on Facebook with the press of an icon like you can with the Facebook app installed. You’ll have to go through a few more “clicks” to do it through the mobile site. Also, the mobile site on browsers like Firefox and others doesn’t allow for system notifications, and that’s a huge downer for a lot of people.
So my recommendation of what to use, and it still solves #1 and #2 on the above list, is to use Facebook’s official “Facebook Lite” app. Now, this is an app that was designed for “developing countries”, so it was meant to work on significantly lower spec hardware (the whole app only weighs in at 30MB) and on slower networks (as in, 2G). Reason being–generally–people in India and Africa, etc., aren’t packing the latest Samsung Galaxy-Up-Your-Ass device, but obviously, Facebook still wants to know everything about those people. People need to be cataloged, you know? Just in case another Hitler comes around, Facebook wants to be there like IBM was in WWII to be able to help round up whatever group the majority wants to hate this time around (okay…obviously, that’s just speculation).
But this Facebook Lite app is the real deal. And it will allow you to use Android’s “share” function (you know, that three-dotted triangle thing?), and it has Messenger built into it, so you don’t have to have ANY other Facebook apps installed. Also, it will allow you to get Facebook notifications on your lock screen or in your status bar. Not bad, right? So why aren’t more people installing this already?
Well, there’s the rub. This was designed for developing markets, so it’s only officially available in those countries. Unless…you have this link. Clicking that text will take you to APKMirror where you can download the latest version of Facebook Lite (version 1.14 as of this writing) directly to your device and install it outside of the Play Store, even if you’re in a country (like the USA) where it’s not normally available (just make sure you have “Allow Third Party Apps to Install” selected in your devices settings). Granted, I’m not sure if the Play Store will autoupdate the app once you have it installed (it doesn’t seem to want to recognize that I have it installed in my Apps list in the Play Store app), so you’re going to want to keep an eye out at APKMirror for updates until we know for sure (as keeping apps up to date is very important for security reasons).
I can definitely say, though, that the app works great. It’s fast. Really, really fast. It’s definitely earned that “Lite” name. And it definitely solves the data use issue and the battery issue. Groups, Private Messaging, the News Feed, all of it is in a very basic but functional user interface that I see no reason to use anything otherwise. Of course, technically, Facebook Lite is just a “website wrapper app”, as they are called, which means that it’s a website with an app interface wrapped around it to make it look like a standalone app, and that’s fine, frankly, because the “app wrapping” lets it take advantage of much of Android’s features, as I said. So it’s a win-win (if there is such a thing with Facebook).
On a side note, the app icon itself is a striking “blue-f on white” instead of the usual “white-f on blue” that people are used to, and I imagine if someone saw it on your screen, it would likely raise some eyebrows, and that’s kinda fun, too. So give it a shot if you want to get away from the monsters that are Facebook’s apps. Facebook Lite is fast, functional, and efficient.
Though, if you really want to be efficient…leave Facebook entirely.