Culture

We won! OnePlus no longer pre-installing Facebook apps and services on phones

The monster has been tamed.

Raymond Wong / Input

Damn, this feels great! After putting OnePlus on blast for sneakily pre-installing Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger apps, and Facebook services, onto its new phones, the smartphone maker has stopped the offensive practice starting with the just-announced OnePlus 8T.

A OnePlus spokesperson confirmed to Input that new phones will not come pre-installed with Facebook-owned apps and services. The controversy arose in the summer. In an uncharacteristic move, following the launch of the excellent and affordable OnePlus Nord, the Chinese phone maker quietly started pre-installing Facebook software on new devices.

Users could uninstall the Facebook apps, but the Facebook services (Facebook Application Manager, Facebook Installer, and Facebook Notification Service) could only be disabled and not removed completely. However, a summer of uproar on OnePlus’s forums and on social media, has made OnePlus see the light.

Input has confirmed the OnePlus 8T doesn’t come with Facebook junk on it. The only pre-installed third-party app is still Netflix, which the company says is for enhancing HDR video playback. I’m okay with Netflix. It’s not Facebook. It’s not a platform leaving damaging effects on society.

Listening to users — When I pressed OnePlus on why it decided to do a 180, a company spokesperson said my op-ed had made its way to the very top and hearing the outcry from users prompted them to get a change of heart.

In my op-ed, I wrote (emphasis mine):

Don’t be greedy, OnePlus. Cut the bloatware. Whatever Facebook paid to get its apps pre-installed on OnePlus phones isn't worth the cost of the relationship with customers. Don't let growth screw up the only good thing happening in the Android world.

I called OnePlus out for setting a dangerous precedent and opening the door to more bloatware that would bog down OxygenOS, its mostly uncompromised version of stock Android. I worried about a future where OnePlus was becoming the monster — a behemoth like Samsung — it fought against.

Walking back on what was arguably a bad move is the right thing to do for loyal users who have stuck by the brand. Not to mention, it ensures new users get the same fast and clean software experience the company is known for. You can't buy trust and OnePlus only exists because it earned it.

You can't buy trust and OnePlus only exists because it earned it.

Gone for now — When pressed further, OnePlus clarified that it has stopped pre-installing Facebook apps and services for the foreseeable future, but stopped short at confirming it would be “forever.”

I know that’s not the most reassuring thing to hear since it leaves open the possibility for a Facebook partnership to happen again. But at least for now, OnePlus customers have reason to celebrate.

Now for some not great news.

What about existing OnePlus Nord and 8/8 Pro phones that came with Facebook apps and services pre-installed? The apps have always been uninstallable. But Facebook services — there's no official way to remove them. OnePlus declined to comment on the record.

However, a source familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Input the situation is more complicated than it looks and that there is no simple, user-friendly way to remove Facebook services off phones that came with them pre-installed. Our source reminded us that there are ways to remove Facebook services so long as you're willing to get your hands a little dirty.

The reason there's no user-facing toggle or switch is because removing them could disrupt a user's experience, our source said.