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.