A rather interesting piece of info surfaced on Bloomberg recently, it seems like some users cannot delete Facebook from Samsung's smartphones. A person called Nick Winke, who is a photographer in the Pacific Northwest, purchased the Galaxy S8 back in 2017, when it was introduced, and he used Facebook all this time. Now, he wants to delete it, but he cannot, which is what caught the attention of the media. The "disable" option is there, in the settings, but the uninstall option is nowhere to be found. So, what's going on? It seems like Facebook has a list of partners with whom it has deals for "permanent apps", in other words, Facebook cannot be deleted from phones that are sold by those partners, it seems. Samsung has declined to provide a list of its partners, but it's not Samsung Mobile in general, as every Samsung phone would ship with a "permanent" Facebook application, which is not the case. So, we're assuming that Facebook either has a deal with some carriers, or perhaps some retailers. Facebook's spokesperson did, however, say that if you disable the app on your phone, it acts as if it's uninstalled, so it cannot collect data or anything of the sort, which is something Mr. Winke was concerned about, and probably at least a part of the reason why he wanted to delete that app from his smartphone.
"Permanent Apps" Should Not Be A Thing
This is just one example of a "permanent app", as most of you probably know what it's like to have a third-party app on your phone that you cannot delete, or an app that is a part of OEMs Android overlay that you really do not need, and yet you cannot delete it, only disable it, if you're lucky. Well, in a perfect world, we'd be able to delete all the apps that we do not need from our phones, that's not the case. People seem way less bothered by first-party apps, as they usually know what they're signing up for when they purchase a device that has an OEM overlay on it, or something of the sort, but when you purchase a device from one of the largest smartphone manufacturers in the world, and find out that you cannot delete an app from one of the most controversial companies in the world, well, we can see why that would bother you. Jeff Chester, an executive director of the Center of Digital Democracy, actually said that people have started to understand that apps can be a powerful tool for their creators, that they can spy you without a problem, as you're constantly using your phone, and carry it around with you at all times, pretty much. He also added that companies should be filing documents on these permanent apps deals, and that Facebook should turn over public documents in which it clarifies that there is not data collection involved when the app is disabled.
This particular case managed to get the attention of the public, but there are a ton of examples out there. Many carriers actually have similar deals with companies like Facebook and Amazon, and they pre-installed apps on units they sell, even some Samsung smartphones. This differs from one carrier to the other, of course, but the issue is still there. This particular case probably managed to get the attention of the public due to the fact Facebook has faced a number of security breaches last year, and has managed to get a really bad reputation because of it, for a reason. Many users have decided to step away from the largest social media service in the world, and use something else, in order to avoid being affected by such security breaches moving forward. In any case, Jeff Chester is right, companies should be far more transparent when it comes to things like this, and provide not only clarifications regarding "permanent apps", but also provide a detailed lists of their partners, which apps are pre-installed, what's the status of those apps, and so on… that actually goes for companies that sell phones with such apps, companies that manufacture them, and companies whose apps come pre-installed on those smartphones. That probably won't happen anytime soon, but it would definitely be nice to see, as such info would give consumers far more information about specific phones before they buy them.