Facebook has noted a potential bug that sees its iOS app that quiently turns on the cameras found on the iPhone or iPad.

A number of users began tweeting about the bug, which seems to occur with iPhones that run iOS 13.2.2, but not iOS 12.

The flaw, which if officially confirmed by the social network, could be the latest privacy gaffe at the firm. Earlier this year CEO Mark Zuckerberg pledged to create a privacy focused future for Facebook.

Facebook bug

News of the bug first began when a number of users began tweeting about it.

“Found a @facebook #security & #privacy issue,” tweeted Joshua Maddux. “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.”

But it wasn’t just him who had noticed the issue.

“Facebook app on iOS 13.2.2 opens my phone’s rear camera when I open a profile photo swipe down to return (look at the little slit on the left of the video),” tweeted Daryl Lasafin. “Is this an app bug or an iOS bug?? @facebook @AppleSupport.”

News of the discovery prompted at least one Facebook executive to respond publicly.

“Thanks for flagging this. This sounds like a bug, we are looking into it,” noted Guy Rosen, Facebook VP Integrity.

He added later that Facebook was rushing out a fix.

“We recently discovered our iOS app incorrectly launched in landscape,” Rosen was quoted as saying. “In fixing that last week in v246 we inadvertently introduced a bug where the app partially navigates to the camera screen when a photo is tapped. We have no evidence of photos/videos uploaded due to this. We’re submitting a fix for this to the App Store today.”

Surveillance risks

The risks associated with cameras and microphones on laptops, smartphones and tablets are well documented.

In 2016 for example, a photo of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in his open plan office revealed that his laptop camera was covered with tape to prevent people from spying on him.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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