Facebook's iOS App Records Users As They Scroll Through the News Feed

(Image credit: Emasali stock / Shutterstock)

Facebook could be watching you even more closely than you know. Numerous people have found an issue with Facebook's app on iOS that shows it using their iPhone's camera without permission.

Updated, 11/12/19, 11:45am PT: Facebook responded to our request for comment 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."

Guy Rosen, the company's vice president of integrity, offered a similar statement on Twitter. It's not clear when the updated Facebook app will reach iOS users; that depends on how quickly it makes it through Apple's process for approving updates via the App Store.

The problem was discovered by 95Visual founder Joshua Maddux, who shared a video of the issue on Twitter on November 10. He later said that he was able to confirm the problem affected five different iPhones, and this morning The Next Web reported that it too had encountered the problem.

The issue only appears to affect iPhones running iOS 13.2.2--earlier versions of iOS don't seem to have the same problem. Nor does the Facebook app on Android. 

It's understandable that some users would have a hard time giving Facebook the benefit of the doubt. There's only so many times privacy-eroding features can be labeled bugs or mistakes before it starts to seem like the company doesn't even make an effort to protect its users. 

We've reached out to Facebook for comment on these reports and will update this post if the company responds. In the meantime, it might be prudent to consider removing the app from your iPhone, or at least preventing the Facebook app for iOS from accessing the device's camera by going into the Settings app for iOS.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.