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‘Repetitive, Spammy Behavior’ Indeed

Juli Clover, reporting for MacRumors:

A new feature in iOS 14 alerts users when apps read the clipboard, and it turns out some apps have been reading clipboard data excessively. TikTok users who upgraded to iOS 14, for example, quickly noticed constant alerts warning them that TikTok was accessing the clipboard every few seconds. After being caught, TikTok now says that it’s removing the feature.

In a statement to The Telegraph, TikTok said that it accessed the clipboard to identify spammy behavior.

“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 did not say whether the feature would be removed from Android devices, nor whether clipboard data was ever stored or moved from user devices.

TikTok, I probably don’t need to remind you, is a Chinese company whose popularity algorithm is a black box. If you use TikTok you should assume they’ve stored a copy of anything and everything you’ve had on your clipboard while using the app. Their slogan might as well be “Chinese state-sanctioned social media” — which to me says don’t use them, but maybe that’s just me.

I mean, their explanation makes no sense at all. How is it an anti-spam feature to look at the clipboard contents of every single person using their app every three seconds? That’s like finding out that when you visit a certain store, they’ve been X-raying your pockets and bags every few seconds, without consent or warning, and when confronted, they say “Oh yeah, we were just looking for shoplifters.” Like that’s even vaguely acceptable.

Friday, 26 June 2020