A newly discovered bug shows the Facebook app using the iPhone’s rear camera while users consume content in the app. It’s unclear whether the bug is being caused by Apple or Facebook.
The bug has been documented by several Twitter users and appears to be triggered when opening photos and videos in the Facebook iOS app and then closing them. Once the photos or videos are opened and closed, the Facebook app can be seen using the rear iPhone camera.
— Faisal Khan (@FaisalK81779639) November 5, 2019
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. pic.twitter.com/B8b9oE1nbl
— Joshua Maddux (@JoshuaMaddux) November 10, 2019
Facebook app on iOS 13.2.2 opens my phone’s rear camera when I open a profile photo swipe down to return (look at the little slit on the left of the video). Is this an app bug or an iOS bug?? @facebook @AppleSupport pic.twitter.com/WlhSXZulqx
— Daryl Lasafin (@dzlasafin) November 10, 2019
Joshua Maddux said he has confirmed the bug across five different iPhones running iOS 13.2.2. He added that iPhones running iOS 12 don’t show the camera.
Update, 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).
— Joshua Maddux (@JoshuaMaddux) November 11, 2019
Uninstalling and reinstalling the app does nothing to fix the bug according to Maddux. However, based on Maddux’s tests, turning off camera access in an iPhone’s settings shows a black area where Facebook is attempting to use the camera.
While the bug only appears to be affecting users that have allowed Facebook to access the camera in their iPhone's settings, most users grant these permissions under the assumption that the camera will be used to perform camera-centric functions such as taking photos or recording videos.
Even though users can see the camera on-screen, this doesn’t mean the Facebook app can access audio or visual data. However, several users who noticed the bug were alarmed by the discovery.
So I was just scrolling on facebook and when I clicked off a photo there was a glitch and on the left side it showed the floor of the room I’m in. So is the camera always on on Facebook or something?? If so what the actual fuck???
— Professional Question Mark (@emmakdaley) November 9, 2019
— Ivaylo Ivanov (@ivgivanov) November 10, 2019
Anyone else getting a glimpse of what’s on their phone camera at the side of the page randomly on #Facebook? Are they creeping on me? 😂
— Laura McKenzie (@mckenzie_X) November 11, 2019
— Owen Edwards (@o_ensan) November 11, 2019
This isn’t the only recent privacy issue that has affected Facebook over the last few days. A recently discovered vulnerability in Facebook’s block function showed that it leaks identity information to users who have been blocked and reduces the privacy protections associated with this function.
Update – November 13, 2019: Facebook says it has fixed the bug.