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Facebook being pre-installed on Galaxy phones is neither new nor a major problem

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Last updated: January 9th, 2019 at 18:28 UTC+02:00

Every now and then, you come across news reports on the internet that makes you wonder: How is this even news? Or why is this being highlighted now? The Bloomberg report and the related articles in other publications about many Galaxy users not being allowed to completely remove the Facebook app from their smartphones falls in that category.

Not being allowed to uninstall the Facebook app is neither new nor surprising as the app comes/came pre-installed on many Galaxy smartphones in one form or the other. Pre-installed apps cannot be removed entirely but can be disabled, which is more or less similar to uninstallation except that the disabled app continues to take up some on the device. This is not unique to the Facebook app, or even Samsung devices for that matter, but applies to almost all pre-installed apps on many smartphones, including Galaxy devices. Only a few, if at all, of the pre-installed apps can be removed completely from the device.

The data leaks and the controversies surrounding Facebook has resulted in increased scrutiny on the service. Probably, this is what is prompting many users to question why can’t they delete the app completely from the device even though that has been the case for many years now. While the increased scrutiny over the presence of preinstalled apps that pose privacy risks and the lack of an option to remove them is welcome, the problem is not new, and any such indication in reporting is misleading.

Also, as pointed out by some users and reported by other publications, Samsung doesn’t even install the actual Facebook app on many of its smartphones. It merely places an installer shortcut which, when launched, downloads the actual app to the device. This makes the concerns about the preinstalled Facebook “app” on Galaxy devices even more exaggerated.

Samsung allows users in China to remove preinstalled apps

The absence of an option to remove the Facebook app from Galaxy smartphones is not due to technical limitations, but because of financial considerations involved in the deals made by Samsung with other companies to preinstall their apps.

In China, Samsung was sued a few years ago for the bloatware they installed on their earlier flagships. The company was eventually forced to offer users the option to remove these apps. As a result of the lawsuit, Samsung is compelled to mention the list of all pre-installed apps and which of them can be removed on its Chinese website under a separate section for each device listing. So, the lack of an option to uninstall the Facebook app completely can be resolved in other markets if Samsung wants to.

Hopefully, the increased concerns over privacy will eventually force all companies, including Samsung, to give more control to the users on handling their devices. While that sounds like a great outcome, do remember that any such move will inevitably lead to an increase in smartphone prices as companies often compensate low prices with advertising deals like pre-installing apps.

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