Facebook Spying On Instagram Users Through Camera: Claims A Recent Lawsuit

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When it comes to privacy, the Mark Zuckerberg led social media behemoth Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) always manages to land itself in trouble every now and then. 

A recent lawsuit filed alleged Facebook for spying on Instagram users by secretly operating their smartphone cameras.

Shocking, isn’t it!

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On Thursday, an Instagram user named Brittany Conditi filed a lawsuit in San Francisco, United States, claiming that the Facebook-owned popular image and video sharing app started intentionally using the camera of the device for collecting ‘lucrative and valuable data on its users that it would not otherwise have access to’.

The lawsuit further attacks on Facebook claiming that the platform has allegedly been collecting various valuable insights about their users by accessing their personal data and infringing their privacy when users are home.

The case here has been filed in accordance with an issue which popped up in various media reports in the month of July. 

It is about Instagram’s unauthorised access to iPhone cameras wherein the app could automatically obtain permission to activate a device’s camera without ever notifying the user. 

When asked about the same to Facebook back then, they replied by saying that they certainly weren’t conducting any ‘privacy-infringing’ activities and that it was simply a bug in one of the features of Instagram which their development team will fix soon.

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However, after iPhone users downloaded Apple iOS 14 beta in July, the newly included indicator which alerts users if and when any application would try to access camera or microphone, users started noticing various suspicious activities and unauthorised access by Instagram.

Instagram Access To Phone Camera: Nothing To Worry?

Instagram said the only reason the indicator fired up because the app has something known as ‘Create Mode’. It is basically a functionality which enables users to share posts with text, gifs and various other things without having to add any photo or videos. Create Mode could be accessed by swiping left from the home feed of Instagram or by using the app’s camera and thus was prone to activating Apple’s indicator.

During the same time, in many such similar cases, Apple’s indicator fired up numerous times for other applications as well. Over 50 companies which included LinkedIn, TikTok and Reddit were found to be making use of iPhone clipboard without the user’s knowledge.

It should also be noted that a month later in August, Instagram was accused of obtaining their users’ biometric data neither with their consent nor with their knowledge. 

Many alleged that the platform was using some kind of face recognition technology for this purpose. However, soon Facebook stepped into the conversation and refuted all those claims. The social media behemoth said that Instagram has never utilised any kind of facial-recognition technology till date and it will remain that way.

All in all, it is well understood how, from the perspective of a user of these social media platforms, the details can get quite murky. There’s no concrete way to validating the transparency of these advertisement-driven businesses masquerading as free platforms. 

As of now, Facebook has outright declined to comment on this matter. We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.

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