It appears that Facebook might face more scrutiny and serious privacy violation charges.
Reportedly, multiple iPhone users have come forward on social media complaining that the Facebook app secretly activates their smartphone’s camera in the background while they scroll through their Facebook feeds or looking at the photos on the social network.
As shown in the video below, when users click on an image or video on the social media to full screen and then return it back to normal, an issue with the Facebook app for iOS slightly shifts the app to the right.
It opens a space on the left from where users can see the iPhone’s camera activated in the background.
However, at this moment, it’s not clear if it’s just an UI bug where Facebook app only accesses the camera interface, or it also uses it to record or upload videos, which, if proven right, would be the most disastrous moment in Facebook’s history.
— Joshua Maddux (@JoshuaMaddux) November 10, 2019
The privacy issue immediately got the attention of other Facebook for iOS users, many of them tried reproducing the issue but failed, which likely suggests the buggy software update has not been rolled out to everyone worldwide and might affect a fraction of Facebook users only.
The Hacker News was also not independently able to reproduce the bug and, thus, can not verify the authenticity of it.
Joshua Maddux, one of the users who discovered this bug, claimed that he tested and was able to replicate it on at least 5 different iPhones running iOS 13.2.2, which is the latest iOS version.
“I will note that iPhones running iOS 12 don’t show the camera but not to say that it’s not being used,” Maddux said.
Facebook app on iOS 13.2.2 opens my phone’s rear camera when I open a profile photo swipe down to return (look at the little slit on the left of the video). Is this an app bug or an iOS bug?? @facebook @AppleSupport pic.twitter.com/WlhSXZulqx
— Daryl Lasafin (@dzlasafin) November 10, 2019
Some users also tested the issue after revoking camera permissions from Facebook, and they found that the background space was just a black screen in that case.
Since none of the Android users has yet noticed or complained about a similar flaw in Facebook, it seems like the bug only affects some Facebook for iOS users.
The news came less than a week after Facebook admitted that roughly 100 app developers might have improperly accessed its users’ data in certain Facebook groups, including their names and profile pictures.
We’ve reached out to Facebook for more information, and if we hear back from them, we’ll update this post.
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