Facebook has another small crisis on its hands, and users are panicking all over social media. Over the past 24 hours, Android users have been receiving prompts from the Facebook app requesting superuser privileges.
For those that might not be familiar with Android’s permissions system, superuser access would basically grant the Facebook app full or “root” access to your phone. And that’s not all; the app is requesting superuser access “forever” — yikes. Needless to say, the scores of users that received the prompt immediately took to their favorite place to vent their frustrations: Twitter.
Now before everyone has a meltdown about how Facebook is looking to spy on your every text, phone call, private picture or grandma’s secret recipe for chili that you’re stashing, the prompt appears to be the result of a mistake rather than some nefarious plot by Mark Zuckerberg and company.
Why Facebook wants a superuser access ? @facebook pic.twitter.com/wMSvfRD6M9
— Sangam Adhikari (@The_asangam) May 17, 2018
The prompts are being seen in the latest version of the Facebook app for Android (v126.96.36.199.93) and according to security researcher Nikolaos Chrysaidos, it appears to be a simple coding error. “The only place inside the x amount of dex files in Facebook app that it does a check that produces the “SuperUser Request” dialog is in the WhiteOps SDK,” wrote Chrysaidos in a Twitter post. “Along with other various checks. Facebook is probably integrating WhiteOps SDK and they forgot to re-implement the ROOT checking functionality.”
So, this little coding mishap is what is forcing the prompt to show up for many users, and another quick update from Facebook should be enough to correct the issue. But that hasn’t stopped users from freaking out, considering the heat that Facebook has been taking in the past few months, which is understandable.
If you recall, Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed the private information of over 87 million Facebook users. Facebook initially decided against making the breach public until a whistleblower for Cambridge Analytica stepped forward. The incident led to Mark Zuckerberg testifying before Congress, which more than anything highlighted how out of touch some members of Congress are with respect to technology, rather than resulting in the true grilling of Zuckerberg that was initially intended.
Cambridge Analytica has since filed for bankruptcy and stated that it has been the victim of “numerous unfounded accusations” that were not “borne out by the facts”. Regardless, it does seem like Facebook is having a problem with shooting itself in the foot lately.