Angry Huawei smartphones owners complain that advertisements have shown up on the lock screens of their devices, seemingly without warning or any sort of announcement. Huawei initially said it had nothing to do with the ads, but later fessed up to the mistake — possibly a harbinger of things to come.
The company initially told Digital Trends the following: “The ads are not initiated by Huawei. We encourage individuals to check app settings, or follow publicly available directions on how to remove lock screen ads.” In a tweet, an Honor representative had confirmed that Honor wasn’t serving ads on phones in any market as well. Honor is a subsidiary of Huawei.
Huawei corrected itself later. The U.S. public relations team was unaware the cloud team was testing ads on the company’s Magazine app service, which rotates wallpapers on phone lockscreens.
“The lock screen images on our servers were inadvertently published,” a Huawei spokesperson told Digital Trends. “These have been removed and should no longer be appearing. Images that downloaded to devices can be deleted by sliding up from the bottom edge of the screen until the operation toolbar appears, then click the “delete” button and then “remove” in the confirmation window. We apologize for the inconvenience.”
A number of people on Reddit reported finding advertisements on their lock screen. One Redditor, who goes by the username Quacksnooze, posted a screenshot of a Booking.com ad that suddenly appeared on their phone.
Others reported getting ads as well. According to the Reddit thread, four images related to Booking.com were added to the Huawei phone’s wallpaper rotation, meaning they would start showing up as wallpapers like any other image.
People had reason to be upset. At the best of times, advertisements online can be intrusive, and having ads placed on the phone’s lock screen can remove some of the customization and personalization that people get with their phones. It’s not just cheaper phones that were getting ads either — even high-end devices, like the Huawei P20, were getting them.
Huawei has come under fire in the U.S. recently: The Trump administration recently blacklisted the company, banning U.S. firms from selling parts or software to it (or buying from it) without prior permission from the government. The move is sure to impact Huawei’s bottom line.
Updated on June 13, 2019: Huawei said the ads were published as an error.
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