Samsung phone owners are upset because they can't delete the Facebook app


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/01/09/begone-zuckermonster.html


#2

Thankfully my phone with T-Mobile doesn’t have it installed. I have the S8+ and no FB app to be found and there’s not a lot of bloatware on it either… if you exclude the native Samsung ones.


#3

Hopefully this will simplify decision-making when I select my next phone. Please no bad news about LG!


#4

Yes. yes we are.


#5

In order to ensure that most software corruption problems can be recovered from with a factory reset, such a device will typically ship with a read-only baseline OS that is never touched. Apps installed during normal operation get to use a separate storage area, so that there is no risk of corrupting the filesystem of the baseline.

For efficiency reasons, it is not reasonable to entirely replicate the contents of the read-only baseline to the read-write work storage. We thus need a storage overlay mechanism of some sorts.

Because Android builds on Linux, which comes from a very different historical background, such a mechanism had to be bolted on a traditional filesystem. In the simplest possible way, that means not supporting “deletion” by masking content in the overlay.

Thus, if the facebook app is part of the baseline, you cannot delete it because you cannot touch the read-only storage. You can, however, “deactivate” it, which means all updates are removed and the app is not allowed to start. In practice, it is equivalent to uninstall the app, except it does not free up storage space (except for installed updates), because there is no storage space to free.

No need to get paranoid about Facebook or Samsung’s motivations here, there is a valid technical reason for this state, and if anything, it’s a UI problem that should be solved in the application manager.


#6

I have an LG-G3 from Koodo (Canuckistan yo!) and it has the same issue.


#7

Agree with @ b00fh on this one. Disabling is the same as uninstalling for a pre-installed app.

I’m counting on you guys to be plausibly technically literate, and you know journalistic. Don’t waste my time with stuff like this please.

If you want to slight Samsung at least do it for something sensible. Like the monstrous bloatware that gets pre-installed on a Samsung phone among which FaceBook is just one offender. Or how long it takes to get a Samsung phone back to something that more properly resembles canonical Android.


#8

This all seems like question-begging to me, though. Why is Facebook privileged to be part of the read-only baseline OS? I owned a Samsung S8 for about a week (gorgeous phone, but Samsung’s Android overlay made me want to punch things) and maybe I’m remembering wrong, but I thought there were at least some apps on the phone at purchase that were deletable. Why wouldn’t Facebook be included in that population?

Also, why wouldn’t we assume that Facebook reached some sort of deal with Samsung in order to have its third-party app installed on all Samsung’s phones? And why wouldn’t we assume that it’s at least plausible that deal included some other system hooks that involved collecting and reporting information to Facebook–hooks that might or might not be disabled by disabling the app alone?


#9

Sorry to hear that. I’m currently using the V20 (verizon-issued) and it did not have a whole lot of junk pre-installed. Mostly Verizon-branded apps which I’ve long ago disabled.


#10

Wait, so Android phones ship with a third-party partner app pre-installed that is impossible to remove… it happens to be from a company well known for systematically lying about spying on users… and when BoingBoing states these two things, they’re illiterate and wasting our time? Sounds like a plausible and well-stated heads-up to me.


#11

I fix this annoyance with installing a custom launcher. It doesn’t fix all of my gripes but casual use of the phone and usage of the homescreen is immensely improved. I’ve been using Nova Launcher since the S5… however i do wish i could remove Samgung’s native apps (specifically Bixby).


#12

Yeah, I messed around with a handful of other launchers, but ultimately there were other limitations on customization that seemed to be the result of Samsung’s hamfisted overlay. For example, I couldn’t have different vibration patterns for mail and text messages, which is really dumb. On my iPhone, I can differentiate between work mail, personal mail, iMessage, calendar notifications, and pretty much anything else I want.

On my previous Android phone, that just prompted me to root and install a different system, but client confidentiality means that I have to have work-installed security on my phone unless I want to carry a separate device just for work email, and that security only works with iOS and Samsung’s garbage.

And yes–Bixby is stupid af.


#13

The “valid technical reason” to have Facebook as part of the base OS image is what, now?


#14

It’s annoying they put shit on there you can’t take off. They all do it. It’s like fuck this, I need more space for kid pics.


#15

So, if I understand you correctly, it’s impossible to delete the app because Samsung and Facebook designed it to be impossible to delete. Which is exactly what Cory is saying.

If Facebook’s record is anything to go by, it will be necessary to check the deactivated status of the app daily to make sure that the latest update hasn’t reactivated it again.


#16

Something something… money.


#17

My T-Mobile S9 is with out Fbook too. The bloatware is astronomical though.


#18

While they may not be able to delete the app, with respect to their account they can certainly…

#deletefacebook


#19

This kind of thing is why I abandoned Samsung after the Galaxy S3 and will never buy another Samsung phone or tablet. They weren’t pre-installing Facebook at that point, but there was a whole suite of Samsung apps that just replicated the functionality of standard Android apps and could not be deleted.


#20

Why don’t you just jailbreak your Samsung?