iOS Bug In Facebook News Feed Lets Device Camera Be Used Without User Permission

NEWS: 11.15.19- Users of the Facebook social media platform’s mobile app running on iOS devices won’t, like, this piece of news one bit in where a bug in the News Feed gave access to the camera while the unsuspecting individual simply scrolled through their daily posts unaware of the issue.

The Facebook “like” icon shown here inverted to illustrate an opposite thumbs down reaction. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Discovered by Joshua Maddux, CEO of 95Visual, a web design and development firm based out of Santa Clarita, California (a city located just north of Los Angeles which itself was placed inadvertently in the spotlight yesterday morning due to a tragedy), the chief executive officer posted a tweet on Twitter last Saturday that said he, according to Maddux himself, found a Facebook security and privacy issue where when the app is open it actively uses the camera.

The rest of his post, which also included an embedded video, said the following:

… 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.

The news of the discovery was one of the top tech stories running the gamut Wednesday through various media outlets such as CNN which alerted Facebook users — specifically on devices with the iOS mobile operating system installled (Android software appeared to be immune) — to restrict, temporarily, access to the camera until a fix for the bug was issued by the social media company.

It was not immediately clear, nor was it specified, in the CNN report as to whether the problem was evident solely in the Facebook app for iOS or also when the social media platform is accessed on the web (e.g., Safari) while in the iOS environment. It also is unknown if the Facebook app running on iPadOS, the recently released spinoff of iOS for the iPad (naturally), is included.

Furthermore, there was no word on what specific version(s) of iOS or even which software release(s) of the Facebook app were affected by the bug.

In an email to CNN, Maddux wrote:

“I thought I had opened the camera buy accident. Then, on Saturday, as I closed out a video on Facebook I saw the camera again on the left side.”

Facebook, which was contacted by CNN for its report, confirmed the existence of the bug — inadvertently introduced — and promised a fix was on the way.

A company spokesperson responded and said:

“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.”

Apparently, that day was Tuesday — a day before the news of the bug broke all over the internet — as evidenced by a statement made by Guy Rosen, Vice President of integrity at Facebook, who tweeted out that afternoon the following:

… We’ve confirmed that we didn’t upload anything to FB due to this bug and that the camera didn’t capture anything since it was in preview mode. We’ve submitted a fixed version to the App Store which is already rolling out.

According to Facebook, as reported Wednesday evening by the New York Post, Apple approved the app update that repaired the bug and users can now install it to fix the problem.

Facebook also said the bug — which since has been revealed to be the camera’s view showing up on a strip on one side of the app’s screen when users tap on photos (as detailed by the New York Post in its story) — was introduced accidentally as part of a previous update to the app launched last week.

So, what should Facebook users do to address this bug?

To alleviate any concerns with security and privacy as a result of this issue, owners of Apple devices — from the iPhone and iPad to even the iPod touch — which run its iOS mobile operating system that have the Facebook app installed as well should go to the App Store app and run the latest update for the social media platform.

Maddux was quoted — reportedly in a tweet Tuesday on Twitter — by the New York Post who said:

“even if it’s a bug, it shows that they can access and keep the camera behind something. That’s the part for me that’s crazy.”

In addition, he said it made him concerned that Facebook could be using facial recognition to see users’ reactions to posts.

Note from the Author: a search by this writer of Joshua Maddux’s Twitter feed for tweets made on Tuesday found no such posts reflecting the two quotes (direct and indirect) used by the New York Post in its report.

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