A glitch on Facebook App’s UI reveals a weird camera activity

UPDATE 2019/11/14: Facebook released version 247.0 that fixes the glitch.

Joshua Maddux published on his Twitter account a video captured from an iPhone running iOS 13.2.2: in this video, a glitch in the interface of Facebook App reveals that the camera is up and running without any notification.

The bug is really simple to reproduce: simply open a Facebook page, tap on profile image and swipe down in order to close the full screen image.
After this sequence, the interface of the app fails to re-align and shows on the background the video stream captured by the rear camera.

Below the test performed on my device (iPhone 7):

I did the same test on an iPhone XS, without being able to reproduce the bug.


The doubt

Now, the main question is: why the camera is on?
Is it just a stupid bug or just one of several techniques used by Facebook in order to collect data?


No panic!

Relax, regardless of whether this is a bug or a data-collection feature, the remediation is pretty simple.

Without coming to buy a smartphone with camera kill-switch [1], or a more affordable camera cover [2], you can disable camera access for the facebook app, as shown by Marco De Sanctis on the twitter thread above:

For additional privacy, Marco disables also microphone and bluetooth access, that can be used by facebook for location tracking [3].


References

  1. Librem 5 – Purism
  2. Smartphone Camera Covers on Amazon
  3. Here’s why so many apps are asking to use Bluetooth on iOS 13

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  2. Full Disk Encryption: tools and setup suggestion for personal data protection
  3. CVE-2019-8641: remotely compromising an iPhone through iMessage
  4. TLDR #1: Jeff Bezos’ iPhone hack
  5. FBI got data from a locked iPhone 11 using GrayKey: how does this tool work?