Social media giant Facebook has confirmed the bug, which appeared in the latest version of the iOS app. A spokesman for the company said the bug caused the Facebook app to “navigate to the camera screen adjacent to News Feed when users tapped on photos”.
When using the Facebook app, if a user taps a photo in their news feed their camera is silently activates and remains switched on while they continue to swipe and scroll.
If users follow a particular set of inputs, users are able to see that their camera has been activated and are shown a live feed from their front rear camera.
“We have seen no evidence of photos or videos being uploaded due to this bug,” the spokesman added. Facebook said it would quickly submit a fix for the bug to Apple. Users have been assured by the company that at no point was the preview content stored by the app or uploaded to its servers.
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Facebook says this is not normal behaviour and that its app does not use the camera while users are scrolling. It appears the glitch only affects those users that have previously granted permission to Facebook to access their camera, which is required to take photos or videos via the Facebook app.
According to Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of integrity and safety, the bug was inadvertently introduced when the company was repairing a problem with its iOS app, that was incorrectly launching in landscape mode.
The bug was spotted by Joshua Maddux, a web designer in Los Angeles, who said he was able to replicate the problem on five different iPhones running the latest version of Apple’s iPhone operating system, iOS 13.2.2.
The bug has stoked concerns from users who have suspected that Facebook eavesdrops on people via the phone microphones in order to target them better with advertisements. The company has denied this accusation. Confidence in Facebook has dropped in light of many of its recent data privacy scandals and it is likely this latest incident will increase scepticism from those with existing privacy concerns about the company.