For the past couple of days users have been seeing a download notification for a new Facebook build (140579 or 141046). The notification would get stuck for many folks, and reboots or battery pulls just caused another notification and stuck download. The whole thing pretty much acted like a clunky, amateurish malware attack.

It's not. The update is legit, and from Facebook. They are pushing out an update outside of the Play Store (which is a direct violation of the developer agreement, by the way) to some users to test new features. If you have the setting checked to allow installations from unknown sources (sideloading) you might have seen this. You also might still be stuck fiddling with the notification that won't go away. To fix that, hook up with some Wifi -- Facebook won't download the update while you're using your data connection.

Let's ignore that Facebook may be breaching their developer agreement. Lets also ignore that they are silently pushing software to a users phone, when that user is unaware and didn't ask for it. We'll also overlook the way Facebook thinks all Wifi is free and unlimited. But we can't overlook the fact that they let this go on for three days and still haven't posted a little something to their blog or dropped a little blurb in the Google Play app description to let the users -- you know, the ones who are worried what the hell this fake Facebook download is doing -- know what was going on.

Anyhoo, if you see the notification about it, just turn on your Wifi and it will overwrite your current Facebook app with something -- nobody knows exactly what, because Facebook hates change logs, too -- newer, and hopefully better.

Via: The Verge


Reader comments

Facebook updating their Android app outside of Google Play for some users


Thank God for this info b/c that notification was getting on my nerves!! All I did was connect my phone to my wifi and the notification went away!!! Thanks!

I uninstalled it when it got persistent about the update and would come back even after dismissing it. cant condone s#*t like that. Google+ is where im at now.

I got the update that way... N4.. it confused me..

I did not notice anything different with the APP.. but I also do not use it much

Quick Tip: If on Jellybean or above, hold the notification, click App Info, and Clear Download Managers Data.

I uninstalled the app, because it's the only way I can stick it to the man.

Now I'm using the version of Facebook my phone came with. It works and does what it always did... nothing that it should.

And dear God were those alerts annoying. It would make my notification ringtone go off 4 times in a row.

Same as above: (Build #144481). Wouldn't go away until I connected to wi-fi to let it finish. I wonder if it's due to my using the new FB search? Galaxy S2 Skyrocket (AT&T)

I've been using Friendcaster instead of the official FB app now for about a year and it works just fine. I can sync contacts, read status, upload photos, tag people etc...that is all I really use FB for anyway. I only have a couple older relatives who still use FB anyway most of my coworkers and friends are on G+ now so if they get too froggy I'll just switch to G+ fulltime.

... and that was enough for me. It DID download over 4G as I noticed it happening in the car on the drive home. Dash clock + mobile site from now on. Enough with the crap. I have auto updates turned off for everything as I like to read reviews of new versions before installing them. Bypassing my desire to control what is installed on my phone means the app gets uninstalled.

"Anyhoo, if you see the notification about it, just turn on your Wifi "

Or better yet, uninstall the app, and then post on Facebook (from your computer) why you stopped using Facebook's app, for all the world to see.

If its downloading and you want to get rid of it, go to downloads (I'm using an N4) and just delete it.

It goes away after.

I was pretty pissed off to see that yesterday. I just deleted the app and now I am glad I did after seeing this article! One step closer to getting rid of my account...

Why is it that you are simply telling folks to just deal with it... A little searching will quickly reveal some hidden permissions that will allow Facebook to continue this side-loading to their hearts' content!

I say a better solution would be to DELETE the damn application and use the website if you must get your FB fix! Here's another idea - complain!! Tell Google how you feel.

Surely there are some contacts within Google that can comment on FB's actions.

>"Let's ignore that Facebook may be breaching their developer agreement. Lets also ignore that they are silently pushing software to a users phone, when that user is unaware and didn't ask for it"

I think it is better to just ignore Facebook all together :)

Very glad I had frozen the updater app months ago. Sort of adds to MY peace of mind. It's MY phone hence they need MY permission.

I didn't see this update, but I uninstalled the app anyway. I won't get rid of my account, though, as many of my shipmates still use it.

This has been happening for three days? I just got it today thought my wi-fi has been on and operating constantly the past three day any time I was home.

My girl does not have it set to accept from an unknown source and she still got it. I do have it set that way and of course got it.

Uninstalled the app as well. I AM NO OK WITH THIS! I've taken the additional steps of reporting the app to google through the play store, and sending a report to facebook about their shady business practices of late as well.

Looks like you can change your profile pic from the app. The only new permission I saw was ability to download and update the app whenever the hell facebook pleases. In the background without knowledge of doing so none the less. The only reason I use it is to keep in touch with family that lives out of state. Maybe doing an uninstall soon.....

Google should make an example of facebook and bar it's app from the Play Store for a month. (along with a condemning message about it on the Play Store home page) I don't think they can fine them or anything lol.

instead of installing it, you can also hit the Cancel button on the top right when it displays the installation screen, and forget about it until they issue an proper update.

Ah, beat me to it. I was getting ready to post that. Also don't forget to go into downloads and delete it.

I noticed my phone was downloading Facebook this afternoon. I was on 3G at the time. Now, when I try to run the app it FCs when starting up. Thanks, Facebook. I needed that. Waste too much
time on it anyway.

They could put a beta version of the app in the Play Store and I'm sure a bunch of people would opt-in to use the beta version of the app... Google needs to tell Facebook to never do that again or get pulled...Facebook is free and they use their own ads to generate money, if they want to do underhanded crap like this they can host the app on their own servers

Three days?? Try NINE DAYS. That is when I started getting this very suspicious notification.

This is making me NUTS! My Droid 4 has the little orange triangle notification that says "Facebook (build 144481) Download Requires Network)" I can't get it to go away, and I do not have WiFi to connect to if that is the fix. I can't get it out of my notifications. I tried to remove everything facebook and that isn't even possible. It showed up today and has been really screwing with my phone (which I use a TON) and slowing things down (I have no idea HOW) not to mention, since I use my phone for business and check it a lot, the "extra" unnecessary notification is driving me mad. I have tried everything I could find online to get this off my phone and nothing will work.

I stopped using the facebook app right after they made app icons for every feather they have in your drawer, it was extremely annoying and confusing "WTF where did these apps come from!?"

Started using friend caster and migrated to APW which not only lets me see my facebook feed but also my twitter and other useful apps in nice sleek scrollable widgets ;).

Facebook is slowly turning into big brother, except they dont need to force peopl to obey, everyone just gives their personal and daily information willingly in an attempt at feeling cool or socially accepted.

After downloading mine, I did see it come to a permissions page where it said the added one was ability to download other apps without asking permission. This seems shady even for an "official" update.

Deleting the app temporarily borked my phone, throwing me into Safe Mode.

The stuck download managed to kill my battery before I could even get home to a WiFi connection. I don't have the healthiest battery around, but it went from 30% to off in under 30 minutes.

The single option then, to preserve the battery, would have been to shut the phone completely off.

Pretty sure that's one of the reasons why the Google Play developer code says that updates should go through the Play Store... When I heard people saying this was happening the first thing that went through my mind was malware

Happened to me, exact scenario, my Facebook wouldn't start up, totally irresponsible action on FB's part. I reinstalled and shut off ability to side load. I wish I could get all my family and friends to switch to +Google.

You have absolutely no way of knowing if Facebook and Google worked out something that allows Facebook to updates apps this way. The Verge has no way of knowing either, so that sentence should really go away.

To get the download to stop simply go into the Download app in applications and clear the data and cache. I had three of those stupid things in the notification bar today and even on WiFi they would do nothing. I force stopped the Download application but it started up again; after I deleted the data and cache it stopped trying to update Facebook.

Also, I uninstalled Facebook and it still tried to update it.

You have absolutely no way of knowing if Facebook and Google worked out something that allows Facebook to updates apps this way. The Verge has no way of knowing either, so that sentence should really go away.

That's why I asked them, two days ago. This has been a problem in the forums, with no real answer. They chose not to reply to my request for information. It appears that they did reply to the Verge, so I could finally confirm what I already knew from looking into what was being downloaded, finding out that it installs over the current app (which means it has the same signature, so it came from Facebook), and testing if it finishes downloading when not on Wifi.

They have had plenty of opportunity to let me (and I imagine every other Android blog has asked) know exactly what is going on and why, but they don't care to answer. If Facebook cares enough to ever respond (my money says they don't) I'll add whatever it is they say to this post. Until then, I can consult the Google Android developer agreement and see (emphasis mine):

Apps that collect information (such as the user's location or behavior) without the user's knowledge (spyware), malicious scripts and password phishing scams are also prohibited on Google Play, as are applications that cause users to unknowingly download or install applications from sources outside of Google Play.

Seems pretty simple to me.

Maybe they get away with it because technically it isn't unknowingly... since there's a notification.

Not that it isn't sleazy and shady nonetheless.

It did this to me on my Galaxy Note 10.1 and freaked me out! I was so convinced it was malware but I couldn't figure out where I picked it up since I only install from the playstore! I don't even side load.

Because they wanted to test an update on some people without creating/posting a separate "beta" version of the app, like Firefox does (which is the correct way to do it).

I wonder what the chances are that Google ultimately pulls the Facebook app from the Play Store temporarily.

Probably won't happen, but in a cynical way, it'd be sort of entertaining to see.

I think they should... if Facebook wants to do shady stuff like this they can use their servers own servers to host their updates, because this obviously shows that they have that type of system in place

Problem solved! Open your app drawer, tap on "downloads" check the Facebook download and then tap on the garbage can icon. Deleted!!! Victory at last! :-)

Facebook over-complicating something that should be dead simple while introducing new flaws and messed up engineering practices? Ya don't say!

I did not trust this outside of GP update so I uninstalled the app and reinstalled from the Play store.

I installed it before reading this article, I cannot resist potential UI imporvements. So far so good, I've only seen the change of design shown in the screencap in the article and the possibility to hide posts from my news feed.

Google needs to slam Facebook for this. Facebook is not higher than or above everyone else to circumvent the system Google has in place for Google Play apps. If Facebook thinks so highly of themselves and they want to pull shit like this, then they can make their OWN mobile OS and try this crap. I like Facebook as my friends are all on it, but I cannot stand Zuckerberg who is a pompous little douche.

Mine was doing that so I went to the Apps list, chose Running Apps and saw the listing for it (Google downloader or something like that). I did a Force Stop and it stopped and hasn't come back. Same for my husband's phone.

i got this notification on the morning of the 14th of March. I downloaded it from the facebook notification and it installed fine. i now have 2.3. 2.2 was acting up a lot and not loading comments and other stuff. seems to be fine now.

Figured it out on my Galaxy note 2. Disabling my downloads was a bad idea... but I went to settings> Application Manager> All> look for Facebook logo titled SNS and disable. Problem solved! Good luck!

You can't delete facebook. I went in to delete it and the ONLY available option is to delete updates. The only way to permanently delete the whole app is to reset your whole device to factory defaults.
And I have wifi turned on and see active networks around me and facebook build 141046 is still donwloading. Even turned the device off and restarted. Have HTC EVO 4G android version 3, doesn't say what the code name is

Everything worked fine with me and the update. I thought it was strange they were pushing an update outside of the play store. But also, Beautiful Widgets did an update just like that a couple days before, out of the play store

God this update was dreadful. I suppose they fixed the issue bc at least today it's usable as oppose to yesterday when it forced closed every minute on me.

I was just about to swallow the hook as I was logging onto farce book - Facebook and I am now content and at ease after reading your very helpful post and explanation. Being new to android world I need to be told how why and when like a 5 year old. But I also do have above layman working knowledge of the consequences of our app acceptance and can extrapolate the consequences as I worked for a seo - search engine optimization and Web / tech company and did listen to some of the deeper workings of the tech we so trust and depend on. I am happily called paranoid by my colleagues.