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posted by chromas on Wednesday November 13 2019, @02:22AM   Printer-friendly
from the its-a-feature-not-a-bug dept.

Facebook bug shows camera activated in background during app use

Some people have complained their cameras got turned on while they were looking through Facebook's app.

When you're scrolling through Facebook's app, the social network could be watching you back, concerned users have found. Multiple people have found and reported that their iPhone cameras were turned on in the background while they were looking at their feed.

The issue came to light through several posts on Twitter. Users noted that their cameras were activated behind Facebook's app as they were watching videos or looking at photos on the social network.

After people clicked on the video to full screen, returning it back to normal would create a bug in which Facebook's mobile layout was slightly shifted to the right. With the open space on the left, you could now see the phone's camera activated in the background.

This was documented in multiple cases, with the earliest incident on Nov. 2.

[...] "I thought it was just my phone or the app acting up," Lasafin said in a direct message. "Then I observed it became more persistent that evening."

Facebook would like to assure users that it was unintentional that the layout bug revealed that the camera was secretly activated.


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by barbara hudson on Wednesday November 13 2019, @02:30AM (20 children)

    by barbara hudson (6443) <barbara.Jane.hudson@icloud.com> on Wednesday November 13 2019, @02:30AM (#919677) Journal
    It's a feature. The bug was that it was discoverable by users in some conditions.

    We really need on/off switches that physically discount cameras, speakers, and microphones (yes, speakers - they can double as low quality mics).

    --
    SoylentNews is social media. Says so right in the slogan. Soylentnews is people, not tech.
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  • (Score: 4, Touché) by c0lo on Wednesday November 13 2019, @02:49AM

    by c0lo (156) on Wednesday November 13 2019, @02:49AM (#919681) Journal

    The bug was that it was discoverable by users in some conditions.

    You mean that TFS ending was too subtle?

    Facebook would like to assure users that it was unintentional that the layout bug revealed that the camera was secretly activated.

    --
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by The Mighty Buzzard on Wednesday November 13 2019, @03:00AM (4 children)

    by The Mighty Buzzard (18) Subscriber Badge <themightybuzzard@proton.me> on Wednesday November 13 2019, @03:00AM (#919687) Homepage Journal

    Why? Leave the thing in your pocket or purse or whatever unless someone calls or texts you. They have atrocious input, minuscule screens, and audio that would make 50s phone customers say "wow, that's some really shitty sound quality there".

    --
    My rights don't end where your fear begins.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 13 2019, @06:23PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 13 2019, @06:23PM (#919954)

      audio that would make 50s phone customers say "wow, that's some really shitty sound quality there".

      Have you actually heard phones in the 50s, or analogue land lines in general? I'd put modern cell phones dramatically above phones in the 80s, let alone phones in the 50s.

      Don't let rose-shaded glasses and hyperbole undermine your argument.

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by The Mighty Buzzard on Wednesday November 13 2019, @08:18PM

        by The Mighty Buzzard (18) Subscriber Badge <themightybuzzard@proton.me> on Wednesday November 13 2019, @08:18PM (#919992) Homepage Journal

        I've spent more of my life on landlines than on cell phones. There is simply no comparison at all. Digital audio was the worst thing to ever happen to phones, removing the wires was the second worst.

        --
        My rights don't end where your fear begins.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 14 2019, @02:20PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 14 2019, @02:20PM (#920334)

      They have atrocious input, minuscule screens, and audio that would make 50s phone customers say "wow, that's some really shitty sound quality there".

      Ok, boomer. Have you even seen the ridiculous size of mobile phones today: 5.5", 6.5"? I wish they still had normal size Android/iOS cell phones you could slip in a pocket. I remember the "quality" of analog landlines and cellular phones from the late 70s and the audio quality was far worse than anything I've experienced, with the exception of cut-rate MVNOs.

  • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Wednesday November 13 2019, @03:48AM (12 children)

    by Grishnakh (2831) on Wednesday November 13 2019, @03:48AM (#919704)

    >We really need on/off switches that physically discount cameras, speakers, and microphones (yes, speakers - they can double as low quality mics).

    Not really. You would need a driver circuit connected to the speaker that could use it as a microphone, and then used an A/D converter connected to a bus to deliver that data to the CPU.

    If you don't trust your phone maker to not put such a circuit on your speaker (which is only going to increase their costs), then why would you trust a physical on/off switch?

    • (Score: 2) by Mojibake Tengu on Wednesday November 13 2019, @06:55AM (11 children)

      by Mojibake Tengu (8598) on Wednesday November 13 2019, @06:55AM (#919746) Journal

      You cannot trust a switch which is controllable by software. Physical switch gives a guaranty of control given to the user.

      --
      Respect Authorities. Know your social status. Woke responsibly.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 13 2019, @09:23AM (6 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 13 2019, @09:23AM (#919770)

        as long as the phone cannot be opened, you can never confirm that the physical switch is in fact a physical switch. go with the librem stuff if you actually care.

        • (Score: 2) by barbara hudson on Wednesday November 13 2019, @04:21PM (2 children)

          by barbara hudson (6443) <barbara.Jane.hudson@icloud.com> on Wednesday November 13 2019, @04:21PM (#919892) Journal
          Librem - the supposedly now available phone that still isn't except for a few examples. Don't hold your breath.
          --
          SoylentNews is social media. Says so right in the slogan. Soylentnews is people, not tech.
          • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Thursday November 14 2019, @01:16AM

            by hendrikboom (1125) on Thursday November 14 2019, @01:16AM (#920114) Homepage Journal

            The Pinephone apparently is also going to have such switches.

          • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 14 2019, @05:44PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 14 2019, @05:44PM (#920432)

            Don't hold your penis barbara hudson! Oh that's right: You can't. Fact about crackpot transtesticle Barbara Hudson: Barbara (tom) Hudson CHEMICALLY CASTRATED itself with estrogen since you failed as a man lol! You also FAIL as a "woman" you NEUTERED delusional freakazoid! What is is like knowing you are a living mockery? A parody of both a 'woman' or a man! You know that. Everyone knows it about you "TraNsTeSticLe" hohohohoho. Barbara Hudson is a twistoid mental case deluding itself it is a REAL woman. Clue: You will never EVER be able to pass a DNA test due to the fact you do not, nor did you ever, possess female mitochondrial material you crackpot weirdo. It isn't logical to attempt to "fix" bodyparts that work with no issues. You had a working (extremely small) penis and balls you sawed off with estrogen hahahaha!

        • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 13 2019, @05:56PM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 13 2019, @05:56PM (#919943)

          Unless you can open the physical switch and put an Ohm meter across the terminals, toggle the switch, and verify the circuit opens, then you cannot trust a physical switch.

          By the way, you'll also need to follow the traces back into the circuit board to ensure that you are indeed open-circuiting the camera part of the motherboard to be sure. A wiring diagram from your phone vendor might be helpful here.

          But then again, unless you can open the chips and put them under a microscope and verify that it matches the aforementioned circuit diagram, you can't really trust your circuit analysis.

          So unless you can do all of that, you don't ever really know, do you?

          • (Score: 2) by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us on Wednesday November 13 2019, @09:20PM (1 child)

            by All Your Lawn Are Belong To Us (6553) on Wednesday November 13 2019, @09:20PM (#920016) Journal

            Or you do it the simple way and put a slide plate or dot of tape over the camera until you need it. Inconvenient but much easier and cheaper.
            Now microphones are a different story...

            --
            This sig for rent.
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 14 2019, @02:26PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 14 2019, @02:26PM (#920338)

              Now microphones are a different story...

              That's a nice set of speakers you got there, would be a shame if someone turned them into a microphone [wired.com]

      • (Score: 2) by VLM on Wednesday November 13 2019, @12:12PM

        by VLM (445) on Wednesday November 13 2019, @12:12PM (#919789)

        Note that in the automotive world its "common" to have tac switches and similar low current buttons simply feed into a microcontroller input pin along with a bunch of other stuff, then a microcontroller output pin feeds some variation on old fashioned relay or DC SSR (really just an optocoupler and a MOSFET, sometimes just one or the other LOL).

        All it takes is one bean counter to get all wound up about "why would you ever turn on the HVAC fan relay if the car key isn't even in the ignition?" And suddenly you've got a block of (hackable) code controlling your cooling fan despite it being a supposed mechanical switch.

        I can see the same game with the phones. Some bean counter is all "Well, we don't want customer service calls about the switch being accidently flipped so we'll turn it into a software only switch that indicates on the display that its off..." and there you go.

        There are typical political arguments about this social media problem, where certain types of folks have certain well known attitudes toward known criminal problems, ranging from victim blaming to the equivalent of white flight.

        In the long run, its impossible to avoid reality of "lay down with dogs get up with fleas" so the only way to avoid pathological social media problems is not to use social media. Which gets easier as more people flee and the ratio of NPCs/Bots vs actual thinking humans improves. I check my FB account from a desktop every couple months; its frankly not very interesting to use anymore.

      • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday November 13 2019, @05:41PM (2 children)

        by DannyB (5839) on Wednesday November 13 2019, @05:41PM (#919932) Journal

        A physical switch can indicate to software your intention to turn something on or off.

        But an on screen switch doesn't take up physical space, and can appear only at appropriate times when software determines that the switch should appear.

        --
        If you have one of those computers that makes it difficult to get work done, use Hyper-V to install Linux.
        • (Score: 2) by Mojibake Tengu on Wednesday November 13 2019, @05:56PM (1 child)

          by Mojibake Tengu (8598) on Wednesday November 13 2019, @05:56PM (#919942) Journal

          No. True physical switch must cut the wire to the subsystem, eliminating its function. Best done by power line AND signal lines. It is a physical gap, not an UI. You can check the wire physically to audit the device. With on screen controls, you control nothing. The one who controls the software, controls you, owns you.

          --
          Respect Authorities. Know your social status. Woke responsibly.
          • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday November 13 2019, @06:36PM

            by DannyB (5839) on Wednesday November 13 2019, @06:36PM (#919957) Journal

            The one who controls the software, controls you, owns you.

            But hardware controls the software.

            And China and / or Intel control the hardware.

            A physical power switch would unfortunately remove all power from Intel's "management engine". (What do you think it manages?)

            As it is presently, even when your machine is "off", Intel's hardware still can control everything, including powering up the device. What if it could only power up and use parts of the system to phone home, while keeping other things powered off, such as LEDs, cooling fans, etc. A physical switch would prevent that -- and Intel could not remotely control a physical switch.

            (<no-sarcasm>I agree that a physical switch gives you real control, which is why we don't always get physical switches.</no-sarcasm>)

            --
            If you have one of those computers that makes it difficult to get work done, use Hyper-V to install Linux.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 13 2019, @12:57PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 13 2019, @12:57PM (#919808)

    Well on a laptop you can open it up and unplug camera yourself. If you are feeling lazy just put tape over it. Embedded microphones will need to be manually removed.