‘Undeletable’ Facebook app angers Samsung owners

Credit: Samsung

Owners of some of the the latest Samsung smartphones have criticised the company after discovering they are unable to delete the pre-installed Facebook app from their device.

While it has been the case for several years that smartphone makers have come to agreements with major tech firms such as Facebook to ship devices with key apps pre-installed, the recent negative publicity surrounding the social network's data sharing and privacy activities are now raising more concerns.

While the Facebook app cannot be removed from the Samsung models – which include the Galaxy S8 and S9 – it can be 'disabled', which a spokesperson for the company said will make it act as though it has been removed, so it doesn’t continue collecting data or sending information back.

However, the company declined to provide specific details about the partners with which it has deals for permanent apps, saying that those agreements vary by region and type.

Bloomberg, which first reported the issue, noted that Facebook is far from the only company with such pre-installation arrangements with phonemakers – most Android devices come with a selection of Google apps included by default, while the likes of Amazon have similar arrangements

However, after a bruising last 12 months for Facebook, which has faced several accusations of privacy violations, it is the social network that has raised the ire of many users.

It could also be a concern for businesses as more employees turn to personally-owned smartphones in their job. With IT teams having to closely manage the use of mobile gadgets to ensure security, the presence of any apps that cannot be completely deleted could well be another source of concern, especially when they are well-known for the amount of data they gather.

Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, also gold Bloomberg that there is growing awareness of the potential risks of such pre-installed apps.

"It’s only recently that people have become to understand that these apps really power the spy in your pocket," he stated. "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."