Facebook is facing backlash for privacy invasion again after a user discovered the app activated his IPhone camera without notifying him while he was scrolling through the platform.
Joshua Maddux called attention to Facebook’s spy tactics and egregious breach of user privacy in a video he posted on Twitter, confirming the monopolistic social media site was accessing his camera without his consent or notification.
“Found a @facebook #security & #privacy issue. When the app is open it actively uses the camera,” Maddux wrote in the post. “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 also found the camera was only accessed by Facebook on iOS devices running on 13.2.2.
Facebook accesses the camera when users click on ads displayed in their newsfeed or clicks on a different user’s profile picture and quickly swipes down, Daily Mail reports.
Reporters at The Next Web, a tech website, tested whether Maddux’s claims were true, and found his claims consistent with their evaluation.
“While iPhones running iOS 13.2.2 indeed show the camera actively working in the background, the issue doesn’t appear to affect iOS 13.1.3. We further noticed the issue only occurs if you have given the Facebook app access to your camera. If not, it appears the Facebook app tries to access it, but iOS blocks the attempt,” The Next Web reports.
“It remains unclear if this is expected behavior or simply a bug in the software for iOS (we all know what Facebook will say; spoiler: ‘Muh, duh, guh, it’s a bug. We sorry.’). For what it’s worth, we’ve been unable to reproduce the issue on Android (version 10, used on Google Pixel 4),” the publication continues.
Guy Rosen, Facebook’s Vice President of Integrity, addressed Maddux’s findings, assuring via Twitter the company plans to launch an investigation to resolve the issue.
“Wanted to let you know that we’ve shipped the fix to App Store and are waiting for it to be approved. Team is still digging into details including about the state of the camera after the bug is first triggered (which relates to your Q), expect to be able to update you later today,” Rosen wrote.
While the unauthorized camera access may be just a glitch, the discovery comes after Facebook was penalized by the federal government for violating its privacy policies. The tech giant was slapped with a $5 billion fine by the Federal Trade Commission in July over its misuse of users’ data.
Facebook sold data from its 60 million users to Cambridge Analytica in 2018 and allowed thousands of software plugins to obtain the data including Amazon, Tinder, Expedia, Spotify, and Buzzfeed.
The FTC also charged Facebook with invading users’ privacy by misrepresenting how their photos were being used for facial recognition.
According to the FTC, Facebook misled 60 million of its users by assuring them that the company would not subject them to face surveillance unless they chose to “turn on” the feature, but Facebook was scanning users’ faces in photos even when their facial recognition setting was turned off.
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