A relatively minor but important change that Apple has introduced in iOS 14 is that users are alerted whenever an application reads clipboard data. This change has revealed that a number of iOS apps are constantly scrapping clipboard data including TikTok.
A video shows the TikTok app on iPhone reading users’ clipboard data every few seconds. Since the revelation, TikTok has issued a statement saying it read clipboard data to identify “repetitive, spammy behavior” and has updated its app to remove this functionality. The updated version of the app is already live on the App Store.
The alternative possibility is TikTok stealing what is on my clipboard every single time I type a keystroke.
I don't have a way to know for sure. Thought it worth putting out there.
— Jeremy Burge (@jeremyburge) June 24, 2020
“Following the beta release of iOS 14 on June 22, users saw notifications while using a number of popular apps.
“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.”
The company, however, did not confirm if it will also remove this functionality from its Android app or not. It also did not confirm if user data from the clipboard was sent to its servers or not.
TikTok is just one of the few apps that reads clipboard data for reasons that are seemingly not clear. Starbucks, AccuWeather, Call of Duty Mobile, and AliExpress are a few of the other apps that have also been found reading users’ clipboards. Incidentally, this is not the first time that it was pointed out that TikTok was reading users’ clipboard data. This behavior was revealed back in March itself and back then, TikTok had promised to remove the functionality from its app.
NOTE: This small change from Apple in iOS 14 about informing users whenever an app reads their clipboard data is going to have huge implications for a lot of apps and developers. It will force developers to change their behavior as most users could otherwise feel uncomfortable seeing an app read their clipboard data for no reason at all.
[Via The Telegraph]