You can’t delete Facebook on certain Samsung phones, and people are pissed


Facebook can't be removed easily on Samsung phones. Joel Saget AFP Getty Images

It's safe to say that Facebook didn't have a great 2018 on the privacy front - with user data leaks, Cambridge Analytica and chilling revelations of how app data is used.

So, here's some old news - many Samsung phones come with the Facebook app pre-installed and you can't delete it, just merely "Disable" it. T-Mobile also lists a host of Google apps pre-installed on the phone, including YouTube, Gmail and Chrome.

Pre-install deals with Android phone manufacturers are not exclusively a Facebook thing, but they are rarely communicated to consumers. "Companies should be filing public documents on these deals, and Facebook should turn over public documents that show there is no data collection when the app is disabled".

"Can they still track your information, your location, or whatever else they do?" Facebook hasn't disclosed the financial nature or scope of those deals but said they are meant to give the user "the best" phone experience from the time they first turn on their new device.

Many parents, this one included, have decided that their children should not use any form of social media, including IM apps such as Whatsapp, due to the threat they pose to their mental health.

Facebook says that deactivating means that the Facebook app won't collect any data on you. Many Android phone users have begun to question Samsung's deal to sell phones with a permanent version of Facebook - and some of them are complaining on social media.

Several Samsung users posted similar experiences in forums, such as Android Central. These apps each have an install base from 10 to 500 million, and they include educational tool Duolingo, flight search engine Skyscanner, travel site Kayak and job database Indeed. Consumers may have to specifically ask a customer service representative when purchasing a phone to find out if it comes with the app.

Samsung, the world's largest smartphone maker, said it provides a pre-installed Facebook app on selected models with options to disable it, and once it's disabled, the app is no longer running.

Facebook added: "We do this in a transparent manner by explaining the practice through our Data Policy and Cookies Policy, and by using Google's advertising identifier, which can be controlled centrally by people using their device settings".

Consumer-advocacy groups have been skeptical of such arrangements for years, according to Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. "Very slimy", Twitter user Gopinath Pandalai in Bangalore, who goes by @gopibella, wrote on the site in October. "It's basically a non-functional empty shell, acts as the placeholder for when the phone receives the "real" Facebook app as app updates ..."

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