Facebook bug secretly turns on iPhone camera
BY MATT BINDER
iPhone users are reporting a significant new bug in Facebook’s iOS app that turns the camera on without their permission.
Found a @facebook #security & #privacy issue. When the app is open it actively uses the camera. I found a bug in the app that lets you see the camera open behind your feed. Note that I had the camera pointed at the carpet.2,13310:47 AM – Nov 10, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy2,017 people are talking about this
The bug went viral after Facebook user Joshua Maddox the issue, complete with video proof, on Twitter early Sunday morning. However, an earlier report of the bug goes back even further with a Nov. 2 tweet from Twitter user .
I take the phone back out, but there’s no indication on the lock screen to say audio or video was playing. I unlock the phone, and there’s the video on @Instagram playing away.
Today, while watching a video on @facebook, I rotated to landscape and could see the Facebook/Instagram Story UI for a split second. When rotating back to portrait, the Story camera/UI opened entirely. A little worrying…215:37 PM – Nov 2, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy30 people are talking about this
The bug appears to activate the camera after a user opens a photo or video in fullscreen within the Facebook app. Upon closing the media or swiping it offscreen, the Facebook app interface noticeably shifts to the right of the screen. Clearly open behind the app is the backfacing iPhone camera.
a bug in Facebook for iPhone forces open your camera after you click on a photo or video in the app if you’re on the latest version of iOS 13. nice.148:07 PM – Nov 12, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy17 people are talking about this
Mashable was able to replicate the bug with the latest Facebook app, version 246, installed on the latest version of iOS (13.2.2) on an iPhone 6S.
My first attempt at trying to recreate the bug failed as I had not previously given the Facebook app permission to use my camera, so revoking those permissions appear to be a temporary privacy fix. The app did, however, still attempt to open the camera.
In a later tweet, Maddox he tested the camera issue on multiple iPhones. It appears that the Facebook bug does not affect iPhone users with iOS 12. said that it could not be replicated on a device using iOS 13.1.
The big question on social media: Is the bug that the camera is opening in the first place? Or is it that the screen is shifting, meaning the Facebook app normally has the camera open in the background?
Mashable reached out to Facebook for comment and to confirm this is indeed a bug (which appears to be the case, but honestly who knows anymore?). We will update this post when we hear back.
Whether it’s the scandal that rocked Facebook last year or the breach where as many as 100 third-party developers were able to improperly access user data, the social media company doesn’t have the greatest track record when it comes to user privacy. Here’s hoping Facebook at least fixes the bug soon.
UPDATE: Nov. 12, 2019, 2:31 p.m. ET Facebook VP of Integrity Guy Rosen provided an update on the issue on Twitter. He notes that it is a bug and a fix will be pushed out to the App Store today.
We recently discovered our iOS app incorrectly launched in landscape. In fixing that last week in v246 we inadvertently introduced a bug where the app partially navigates to the camera screen when a photo is tapped. We have no evidence of photos/videos uploaded due to this.
Facebook also provided Mashable with the following statement:
“We recently discovered that version 244 of the Facebook iOS app would incorrectly launch in landscape mode. In fixing that issue last week in v246 (launched on November 8th) we inadvertently introduced a bug that caused the app to partially navigate to the camera screen adjacent to News Feed when users tapped on photos. We have seen no evidence of photos or videos being uploaded due to this bug. We’re submitting the fix for this to Apple today.”