If you don't want Facebook on your mobile phone, pay close attention to the apps that come pre-installed when buying a new model, especially if it's a Samsung phone. Bloomberg revealed last week that the Samsung Galaxy S8 comes with the Facebook app pre-installed, and while it can be disabled--so that it's not running--it cannot be removed. A Facebook spokesperson says that if disabled the app won't collect data about the phone's user. 

Still, if you're trying to reduce the amount of time you spend on social media, or you're troubled that Facebook was used by foreign powers to influence U.S. elections, you may prefer not to have the app on your phone at all. But you may not have that option.

The issue was first confirmed by photographer Nick Winke, who'd seen complaints in online message boards that Facebook couldn't be removed from some Samsung phones. He tried to remove the app from his own Galaxy S8 and found that, sure enough, he could disable it but not remove it.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed that in some cases Facebook is pre-installed on phones such that it can't be removed, and that the company believes having Facebook on a device from the moment you turn it on provides more convenience and a better user experience. When asked how preventing users who want to delete an app from doing so provides a better experience, she could not comment. She also could not comment on which manufacturers and carriers had partnership deals with Facebook to sell phones with an unremovable Facebook app, or how those decisions were made. She did provide this link for those who want to disable Facebook.

She noted that many or most mobile phones come with some apps pre-installed that can't be removed and unfortunately, she's right about that. Android and Apple phones come with some Google and Apple apps permanently installed, which can be annoying but is also unsurprising.

On the other hand, some device manufacturers take things a step farther, and Samsung is notorious for loading up its devices with large amounts of such "bloatware." For example, my Samsung Galaxy Tab A came with half a dozen unremovable Samsung apps, which I've never used, and which don't seem necessary to the tablet's function. Some are completely redundant in my case because I already have apps I've been using for years that duplicate their functions. (I don't need Samsung Notes when I already have Google Keep and Evernote, for example.)

Not only that, Microsoft Word, OneDrive, PowerPoint, and Skype are all permanently installed as well. While I can see myself using Word perhaps someday, and Skype can be handy, I'm quite sure I'll never use PowerPoint or OneDrive on my tablet, but I can't completely remove them. (However, on this somewhat older tablet, it still is possible to uninstall Facebook.)

If disabling an app keeps it from collecting user data, as Facebook says it does, and also removes it from the app tray so you don't have to see its icon on a daily basis, why should anyone care that the app can't be removed altogether? The reason I bought that tablet in the first place is that, even moving everything I could to an SD card, 16 gigs of storage wasn't enough for all the apps I use. So I decided to purchase a 32 gig tablet. But when I took my new 32 gig tablet out of the box, I discovered that only about 25 of those gigs were actually available to me. More than one fifth of the storage I paid for is filled up with apps that I don't want, will never use, and that I'm stuck with for as long as I own the tablet. If I buy a newer Samsung device someday, I may be stuck with Facebook as well.

Published on: Jan 14, 2019
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