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Facebook for iOS uses your camera whilst you scroll your feed

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Facebook (Image credit: iMore/Rene Ritchie)

What you need to know

  • Facebook for iOS can access your iPhone camera whilst you scroll through your news feed.
  • Web designer Joshua Maddux took to Twitter to reveal the issue.
  • The issue only seems to affect iOS 13.

A report suggests that Facebook for iOS may be able to actively use your iPhone's camera as you scroll your feed.

According to TNW:

iPhone owners, beware. It appears Facebook might be actively using your camera without your knowledge while you're scrolling your feed.The issue has come to light after a user going by the name Joshua Maddux took to Twitter to report the unusual behavior, which occurs in the Facebook app for iOS. In footage he shared, you can see his camera actively working in the background as he scrolls through his feed.

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In a screen recording where Maddux used Facebook, watching the footage back you can clearly see the camera open and in operation. Maddux says he used a bug in the app to see the camera behind the feed.

Maddux says he has been able to replicate this on 5 different iPhones running iOS 13.2.2. On iOS 12 the camera feed is not visible, but this isn't to say it's not being used.

Another Twitter user also noted a similar problem below:

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TNW also confirms that that they were able to replicate the issue on the same version of iOS 13. The bug does not work if you haven't given Facebook access to your camera in your iOS settings. It seems the problem does not extend to Android.

Facebook doesn't have a fantastic track record when it comes to breaching the privacy of its users. It would be easy to jump on this as another similar failing, however there is no information to suggest that this is an intentional feature, and is most likely a bug. You can of course prevent it by revoking Facebook's access to your camera in iOS, simply go to Privacy > Camera> Facebook. Facebook only needs access to your photos, not your camera to upload pictures on iOS.

Stephen Warwick
Stephen Warwick

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple.

10 Comments
  • This is why Apple needs something like Bouncer for Android. But further, I remember saying this when the iPhone X came out, that apps could positively ID you while you use them. Y'all laughed at me! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBoIoJVVp5c
  • "apps" being Facebook, and its sibling apps. It'd just be nice to have some icon when the camera/microphone is being used, similar to the camera light on the MacBooks
  • The best solution is not have facebook app installed and not to use the platform
  • It's the best solution if you don't really care for social networking
  • "You can of course prevent it by revoking Facebook's access to your camera in iOS, simply go to Privacy > Camera> Facebook".
    On my 8 Plus, Facebook isn't listed under Privacy > Camera.
  • It is on mine. If it isn't listed on yours you won't have given it permission
  • Why anyone uses facebook at all is still a mystery to me. Giving ANY app access to the camera and microphone is just incredibly stupid.
  • Because people have added all their friends on there, it's the most popular social network, it'd be almost impossible to get all your work colleagues, friends and family to move over to another social network. What would be a better option is that Facebook allows custom clients, which would remove a lot of these privacy holes (not all of them, but quite a few)
  • None of my friends/family are on it. We just use text messaging. Only people in our group and/or private chats see our texts and pics. Not the entire planet. Also, I don't need/want my work colleagues following my personal life. Again, why does anyone use/trust facebook for anything? Because "everyone" is using it is not a valid answer. By that "logic", McDonald's has great burgers because "everyone" eats there. I have no use for any "social media". I have people I know continually email me about joining "Linkedin", whatever THAT is. I ignore them. You want to contact me? Then email me, text me or call me. I have no time for anything else. I have a real life. I don't care about what everyone I know had for dinner yesterday.
  • You can swap out McDonalds for something else the same way you can swap out one photo editing app for another, but any app that requires you to add friends you're stuck because it requires moving other people to the service. I know you've replaced social media with texting, but they're not really the same thing although if it works well for you then it makes sense that you can leave social media behind. People use Facebook, I don't think they really trust it, the average person doesn't care too much about the privacy issues surrounding Facebook, outside of having passwords leaked which could be very dangerous. In a perfect world everyone would care about the privacy issues as much as you and would move to a better social network, but that's not the case. I don't really use SMS as I find it to be unreliable at times, plus I can't send media (MMS costs extra in the UK, and doesn't seem to work that well). I use Telegram for people who use it, but again I'm stuck with using WhatsApp because I can't get everyone to move over to Telegram. I'd love for RCS (the replacement for SMS) to start becoming a thing. I'm going to disregard the "I have a real life" comment because not everyone who uses social media posts their food and checks for updates every 5 minutes. I check it in the morning before work, I check it after work, and maybe after that one every few hours. I don't really post much apart from important events or sharing holiday photos, or I'll share the odd funny image/post.