What did I just download? FB Messenger for Mac
February 24, 2021 4:03 AM   Subscribe

I was on FB on my Mac laptop. Some dialog box asked me to download something "new" - a messenger for Mac. Please let this extremely non-FB-messenger user know what I did and/or what I should do.

So I did, and I installed it after being warned as usual that it was downloaded from the internet, and it asked for permission to access my downloads which I denied and now it is visible in my dock.
It is an oval icon with a FB messenger looking white squiggle, half red or purple half blue.
Is this an evil fake FB thing?
Whether or not FB itself is evil, I want to know: Was this actually really not coming from FB?
I don't know why I even downloaded it except I thought it was some kind of update, but now I have no idea why it's different from normal FB messenger, or whether I just made an error and have something I shouldn't on my computer.
posted by nantucket to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Best answer: I don’t know if this is what you downloaded, but Messenger has long been a separate app in iOS and seems to be rolling out in the US for MacOS as well. Here’s an article. Knowing that it does exist, is there anything specific that’s making you suspicious? This does sound like a sketchy experience, it just might also be legit.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 4:16 AM on February 24, 2021

Response by poster: Thank you chesty_a_arthur. Unlike the blue icon in that article, this one is multi-colored. I think it's been on my iphone for a long time but can't tell if it's the exact same thing on the laptop.
Now the messenger app on my phone is asking me if I am nantucket, and FB sent me an email asking if I logged in from this app bc I don't usually.
I'm only suspicious bc I downloaded it and installed it without really thinking.
posted by nantucket at 4:21 AM on February 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Facebook and Instagram now share messaging, so the new icon is the old Messenger logo with Instagram colors.

posted by jonathanhughes at 5:05 AM on February 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Facebook does distribute the Mac version of Messenger as a direct web download as well as through the App Store, so you may just have downloaded the real app. I haven't heard of new Messenger malware on Mac recently but let's be sure.

Do you still have the file that the website downloaded? It would be in your downloads folder and end in .dmg (I just downloaded a legit copy myself for comparison).

If so, are you comfortable typing a single command in the app Terminal? It won't connect to the internet or do anything hinky to your computer.

1. Run the app Terminal from your Utilities folder.
2. Type md5 followed by a space. Don't hit return.
3. Drag the .dmg file into the Terminal window (this just adds the filename to the line you typed).
4. Now hit return.

After a second or two you'll see a line like:
MD5 (/Users/******/Downloads/Messenger.91.5.119.dmg) = 0af6880d85f9c9a964d632eed241d9f4

Assuming your app was the same version (91.5.119) you'll get the same long code after the equals sign that I did. If that long code is the same, your copy of Messenger is identical to the one I just legitimately downloaded and you don't need to worry about it.
posted by bcwinters at 5:14 AM on February 24, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: It's not fake. Facebook Messenger on your phone or in a little tab inside Facebook on the web is also accessible at messenger.com or as a standalone Mac app.
posted by emelenjr at 6:36 AM on February 24, 2021

Best answer: FB definitely has been pushing people to download their stand-alone messenger app recently. (I was prompted to put it on my PC about a month ago & my spouse got it for their mac a couple weeks ago. Once I installed it & logged in, FB sent me an email message to make sure it was me.) The icon in my taskbar looks exactly as you described.
posted by belladonna at 6:39 AM on February 24, 2021

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! Super helpful!!
posted by nantucket at 8:02 AM on February 24, 2021

Facebook Messenger, like most apps for mobile devices, is invasive of privacy, tracks you. I avoid apps as much as possible.
posted by theora55 at 9:46 AM on February 24, 2021 [2 favorites]

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