Apple’s latest iOS 14 update brings a slew of new privacy features for both iPhone and iPad users. This includes revealing what services and functions applications are accessing in the background. Every time a third-party app accesses the clipboard, for example, users get a pop up informing them.
This new feature, currently available in iOS 14 beta, has revealed that the famous short-video application TikTok grabs the contents of users’ clipboard every time it is open on the screen. TikTok is not the only third-party application employing such practices. However, in March this year, ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok, promised that it would stop snooping on the phone’s temporary storage.
TikTok’s clipboard access was first reported by Emojipedia’s Jeremy Burge, who also posted a screen recording showing multiple pop-ups as he typed on Instagram. The pop-up reads, “TikTok pasted from Instagram.”
(it's a beta, so I'm not complaining, just…observing in public)
— Jeremy Burge (@jeremyburge) June 24, 2020
Surprisingly, TikTok was pretty quick to respond and has promised that it will stop reading iPhone users’ clipboard content from now on. The company has clarified that this feature was initially designed to identify spam.
According to TikTok:
For TikTok, this was triggered by a feature designed to identify repetitive, spammy behavior. We have already submitted an updated version of the app to the App Store, removing the anti-spam feature to eliminate any potential confusion TikTok is committed to protecting users’ privacy and being transparent about how our app works.
This news comes at a time when TikTok is already under scrutiny for its data and privacy practices. So far, the ByteDance has faced multiple bans in various countries as well as a hefty penalty in the US. Despite this, the app has continued to grow in popularity.