The Facebook app is secretly recording through iPhone cameras, as their users scroll through their news feed.
The strange behaviour has led to a flurry of worries about the fact that the camera could be secretly recording people as they use the app. Unlike on Apple's computers there is no indicator when an app is accessing the camera, so it is possible for an app to do so in secret.
Facebook says the strange behaviour is caused by a bug that was added to the code by accident and that there is no indication that photos or videos are being sent to its servers. The company claims an update has already been submitted to Apple that should remove it.
In the meantime, the potential security flaw can be avoided by a simple fix in the iPhone settings that keeps Facebook from seeing the camera at all.
The bug first came to light after users noted that the app would occasionally shift the entire feed over to the right, as part of what appeared to be a bug. Underneath that main app a different screen could be seen – which showed video from the phone's built-in camera.
Facebook said that it had introduced the behaviour as part of an attempt to fix a different bug. Stating that they recently discovered that version 244 of the Facebook iOS app would incorrectly launch in landscape mode, however when fixing that issue in v246 (launched on 8 November) they inadvertently introduced a bug that caused the app to partially navigate to the camera screen adjacent to News Feed when users tapped on photos.They stated that they have seen no evidence of photos or videos being uploaded due to this bug and are submitting a fixed version to the App Store which is already rolling out.
- The problem can be fixed in the meantime by revoking Facebook's access to the camera. That is done by heading into the Settings app and navigating to the Facebook option – clicking that should bring up a number of permissions that have been granted to the app, including the ability to access the camera, which can be turned off by changing the toggle.
- That will also mean that Facebook is no longer able to access the camera for more legitimate functions or features, such as the ability to capture and upload a picture straight from the app.