iPhone users reported that Facebook was opening the primary camera when the app was in use, leading to speculation that this function was being used to spy on people. Facebook was quick to say it was nothing more than a bug.
Some iPhone users noticed that the camera on their phone
was open when they opened a video or photo in full screen, then it returned to
normal. Many of them posted recordings on Twitter, showing just how it works,
and the rumor mill took off.
Facebook and privacy make for a suspicious word
combination in the public eye. The company is mired in controversy over private
user data, and they are still trying to explain, with every chance they have,
that their app is not secretly recording people.
It’s easy to imagine why iPhone Facebook users weren’t happy
about their camera starting without their knowledge. The issue was first
reported in a tweet by Facebook user Joshua Maddux, according
to The Hacker News.
“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,” Maddux said on Twitter. “I have been able to confirm
this across 5 different iPhones all running 13.2.2. I will note that iPhones
running iOS 12 don’t show the camera (not to say that it’s not being used).”
The biggest unknown is whether the camera is used or just
accessed. Facebook was quick to say that it’s just a bug and that no data was
recorded and uploaded.
“We recently discovered that version 244 of the Facebook
iOS app would incorrectly launch in landscape mode,” Facebook told The Hacker
News. “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.”
The update for the Facebook app is already rolling out
for iOS users.