It is well known that some Samsung phones come with the Facebook app installed in a way that prevents it to be uninstalled, as described in TIME’s “Some Samsung Users Are Finding They Can’t Delete Facebook From Their Phones” (based on an article by Bloomberg).
Unfortunately, this is not unique to Samsung or to Facebook. It is common practice for phone providers to enter in agreements with app makes to provide those apps in their devices. But for security conscious consumers are starting to be annoyed of this practice. In particular Facebook data collection (see Huffpost’s “Facebook Is Collecting App Users’ Data Without Consent, Wall Street Journal Finds”, Yahoo news' “Gundlach: Facebook is a ‘diabolical data collection monster’”, and TIME’s “The Most Disturbing Thing About Facebook’s Controversial Data Research Program").
In this post, I will show you how to remove Facebook from your Android device without rooting it. I will focus on Samsung phones, but the procedure should work for other Android devices as well. I will show how to remove Facebook, but again you can remove other apps too.
First let try to remove Facebook app in the standard way provided by Android. Just follow the instruction in “How to Uninstall Facebook on Android” in wikiHow. If that works, then you are done and can skip the rest of the post.
Not so easy way
If the standard procedure did not work, then we will need to a little bit more complicated procedure. We will base our approach on the “Debloat Android” post by Chis Titus. We will tackle the problem in four steps,
- Install Android Debug Bridge (ADB) in your computer
- Configure your device for ADB debugging
- Remove Facebook
For the first two steps, we will use Chris Titus instruction. But, let go step by step, as follows:
1. Install Android Debug Bridge (ADB) in your laptop
You need to set your computer to use ADB. ADB works in Linux, Windows and MacOS. So, let install it following Chris’ instructions on “Setup Computer with ADB Platform Tools”.
2. Configure your device for ADB debugging
Now you need to enter development options and enable USB Debugging in your device. Again, let follows Chris’ instruction on “Setup Phone for ADB Debugging”.
3. Remove Facebook
Here comes the main part of the procedure. Now we will connect our device to the computer using a USB cable and use the ADB shell to connect to device and uninstall Facebook.
Connect the device to the computer via a USB cable.
Open a command line window.
- In Windows click Start and type
- In most Linux distributions just type
Ctrl + Alt + T, or select it from the launchpad.
- In MacOs select terminal from the launchpad, or press
Command + Spaceand search for Terminal.
- In Windows click Start and type
Now let find our connected device using
adb devices, as follows:
~$adb devices List of devices attached 9889d5453742424c4d device
You may need to do this twice, as the first time may start the ADB daemon. If no devices are shown, you may need to look in your device and allow the connection to the computer. You must be sure that your USB cable allows data (some USB cables are for charging only). So, you may need to try other cables.
Now let connect to the device using
~$ adb shell
(Optionally) Now that we are connected to the device let look around and find the packages that we need to uninstall
dream2qlteue:/ $ whoami shell dream2qlteue:/ $ id uid=2000(shell) gid=2000(shell) groups=2000(shell),1004(input),1007(log),1011(adb),1015(sdcard_rw),1028(sdcard_r),3001(net_bt_admin),3002(net_bt),3003(inet),3006(net_bw_stats),3009(readproc),3011(uhid) context=u:r:shell:s0 dream2qlteue:/ $ pm list packages |grep acebook package:com.facebook.services package:com.facebook.katana package:com.facebook.system package:com.facebook.appmanager
Notice that we
grepfor Facebook in the list of packages. But, if you want to see all the packages, just use
pm list packages.
Let uninstall Facebook packages, using
pm uninstall --user 0 com.facebook.<package>
dream2qlteue:/ $ pm uninstall --user 0 com.facebook.katana Success dream2qlteue:/ $ pm uninstall --user 0 com.facebook.services Success dream2qlteue:/ $ pm uninstall --user 0 com.facebook.appmanager Success dream2qlteue:/ $ pm uninstall --user 0 com.facebook.system Success
Let exist from the device.
dream2qlteue:/ $ exit
You can now disconnect the device.
There are two areas that we need to clean up. First in the device we want to turn off USB debugging and remove Development options, as follows:
- Go to settings => Development options and turn of USB Debugging 2- At the top of the Development options page, turn off it. This will remove them from settings.
Second, optionally uninstall ADB from your computer. This can be done easily in Linux with
sudo apt-get remove android-tools-adb android-tools-fastboot.
Uninstalling ABD in other platforms are left as an exercise to the reader.
This post showed how to uninstall Facebook from an Android device. However, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger are also Facebook property and poses similar data collection concerns. What is more troubling is the fact that Facebook’s plans to unify all of these applications (see “Facebook starts ambitious plan to unify all of its instant messenger apps”.