One of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s more famous quirks is that he covers his laptop camera and microphone with tape. Former FBI director James Comey does the same, and some experts say it can minimise damage in the case of a hack.
For millions of iPhone owners that use Facebook, they may want to employ the same tactic to their front-facing iPhone camera.
According to a Twitter user, Joshua Maddux, the Facebook for iOS app featured a bug that allowed him to see the camera open behind the feed whilst he was scrolling in the app.
The Next Web repeated the tests and found that the issue was affecting iPhones running iOS 13.2.2 (the latest version of iOS) but not iOS 13.1.3 or iOS 12. This issue also doesn’t affect Android users.
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 has since confirmed the issue, with the company’s VP of integrity, Guy Rosen, taking to Twitter to explain the bug. “We recently discovered our iOS app incorrectly launched in landscape. In fixing that last week in v246 we inadvertently introduced a bug where the app partially navigates to the camera screen where a photo is tapped. We have no evidence that photos or videos upload due to this," he said.
The company says that it is submitting a fix for the bug to the App Store but in the meantime, there is a really simple way to prevent it from happening on your iPhone. The Next Web found that the issue only occurs if you give the Facebook app permission to access your camera, which can be changed in settings.
Go to Settings and scroll down to Facebook. Then, in the options, swipe the toggle so the app can no longer access the camera. You can remove mic access too, if you want to go full Zuck.
Given all the security issues Facebook has faced in recent years, such as Cambridge Analytica, the exposure of hundreds of millions of personal phone numbers, and contractors listening to audio clips people made using Facebook Messenger, it appears secret camera usage is just the next scandal to add to that list.