The Truth Behind 'Undeletable' Facebook App

John Lister's picture

Reports which suggest that Samsung has made it impossible to delete Facebook from its smartphones turn out to be slightly overblown. In fact, the app isn't actually on the handsets in the first place.

Many media outlets have followed up on a report by Bloomberg that was sparked by Internet forum complaints. Bloomberg cited the case of a man who, like many others, was surprised to discover that it wasn't possible to delete the Facebook app on his Samsung Galaxy S8. The app had been there from the day he first used the phone. (Source:

The man noted that it was only possible to disable the app, leaving him uncertain as to what that would do, in particular how it would affect Facebook's ability to track location or phone activity.

No Data Transmitted

The report also cited Facebook as saying the disabled version of the Android app acts as if it had been deleted and that it was not collecting or transmitting data. It said that the app not being deletable was part of a deal it made with Samsung to get the app preinstalled on the phone.

As often, there's more to the story. App researcher Jane Manchun Wong has since pointed out the app that's preinstalled on Samsung phones isn't actually the real Facebook app. Instead, it's what's known as a "stub" version, which effectively acts as a placeholder. This includes getting the app icon in a prominent position from the outset. (Source:

'Disabling' Reverts To Non-Functional App

The stub version remains until the phone user OKs an app update, at which point the full version of Facebook is added to the phone.

The way Android is set up means that if the users disables the app, it will revert to the original installed version - namely the stub. This means it's again non-functional and can't collect or transmit any data.

It seems to be very much a case of Samsung and Facebook failing to communicate with customers, rather than carrying out anything shady. The real problem is one of annoyance with customers not understanding why they seemingly can't delete the app, along with the irritation that the icon remains in the list of apps, even if the user has decided they don't want Facebook any more (or in the first place).

What's Your Opinion?

Should Samsung or Facebook have clearly explained the setup to customers from the outset? Should phone makers include apps that can't be deleted, even if they are merely placeholders that don't do anything? Are deals to preinstall apps acceptable if they mean lower handset prices?

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Dennis Faas's picture

I have had a run-in with an undeletable app on my Samsung s6, namely "Peel Remote," which was pre-installed on my phone AND enabled. At first I had no issues with my phone for the first few months and everything ran great. Then, suddenly I started receiving full screen ads on my phone, even when I wasn't using it. To say that this was extremely annoying is putting it mildly.

Luckily I was able to discover the ads were coming from Peel Remote. I tried to uninstall the app, only to find it was "undeletable" - similar to what is mentioned in this post. The only option was to uninstall all the updates for Peel Remote (after spending an hour searching forums), then disable it, which apparently prevents it from running. I went a step further and installed a firewall app to completely block it so there is no way it can (a) re-enable itself by installing an update, and (b) serve ads.

The fact that there are "undeletable" apps on my phone - especially a Samsung phone - really upsets me. I am paying a premium for a smartphone and I expect it to be functioning perfectly and without jamming ads in my face from a third party! Aside from that, my phone has been excellent.

David's picture

I also have ann S6, and Peel was not initially installed on it - I found and installed it myself. A number of updates later and it started popping up full screen ads even while not running so I tried to uninstall it and that's when I found out an OS update had also perma-installed Peel. Those Bastards!

It is enough of a pain in the ass that Samsung includes their own apps that cannot be removed, but worse when they do it with third-party apps. Let them pay to be on the phone and put in front of our face, but they need to be fully uninstallable as well, without rooting.

Jim's picture

This is one of the main reasons I root my phones. I don't need FB, Samsung, or anyone else telling me what apps I "must" have installed on my phone.

matt_2058's picture

Face it, facebook wants everything it can get from you and about you. I believe this is part of facebook's effort to do that and very much related to the article Mr Faas gave us 10 days ago.

I can't let apps update automatically because of crap like this that will get updated.

crackberrymeister_3399's picture

Most carrier provided phones running Android come with these types of apps. I have owned several from LG, Samsung and Motorola that had what appeared to be Undeletable apps and could only be disabled. As someone mentioned, if you can root the phone you can truly delete these apps. I now only purchase unlocked phones that allow me to have more control over my apps and rarely come with all these unwanted apps preinstalled.

Focused100's picture

I had a Galaxy S5 and all of a sudden the Peel Smart remote app appeared after an update. I didn't think anything about it until I started seeing ads. I was only able to disable it but at least the ads stopped.

dkingsbo_10494's picture

How can I delete Bixby?
I think that is rooted on newer Android phones, and it is a pain
I can change permissions, and clear cache