A number of apps have recently come under the scanner for accessing smartphone features without having permission and the latest service to feel the heat is Instagram. Apple’s iOS 14 update shows a green icon on the control panel of an iPhone or iPad screen in case an app tries to infiltrate the camera and a user recently came up with a screenshot of such a notification on the control panel after scrolling through their Instagram feed. It is a round circle with the ‘recorder indicator’ in the center.
A Daily Mail report has said that while the notification feature is set to come up with a new operating system later in 2020, early adopters have noticed that several apps like TikTok, Reddit and LinkedIn are quietly accessing the clipboards.
Apple unveiled the iOS 14 in June at its first-ever online World Wide Developer Conference and in early July, it came up with the public beta version. The version, which is not too polished, nevertheless allows users to look for bugs that may have averted Apple’s eyes ahead of the official launch of the product in September. The version revealed the intrusion of some apps, as has been noted by a Twitter user, the Mail report added.
A Twitter user by the name of Kev Doy shared the screenshot showing Instagram activating his iPhone camera while scrolling through the site but not taking a photo or video. “Casually browsing Instagram when suddenly the new iOS 14 camera/microphone indicator comes on. Then control panel ratted out the app behind it. This is going to change things,” the user wrote while sharing the screenshot.
It’s a bug, says Instagram
When contacted by The Verge, an Instagram spokesperson said in an email that the behavior was a bug and it was trying to fix the issue. “We only access your camera when you tell us to — for example, when you swipe from Feed to Camera. We found and are fixing a bug in iOS 14 Beta that mistakenly indicates that some people are using the camera when they aren’t. We do not access your camera in those instances, and no content is recorded,” the spokesperson said. There were users who were not convinced with this explanation though.
Last year, Facebook — Instagram’s parent company — fixed a bug in its iOS app that appeared to be activating cameras in devices without the users having any knowledge about it.
TikTok, Reddit, LinkedIn say they are making changes
The latest behavior involving Instagram looks to be another of iOS 14’s aggressive new-user notifications that alert the users about app behavior such as clipboard copying. As said earlier, TikTok, Reddit and LinkedIn were found to be accessing the users’ clipboard content. Whenever a third-party app accesses the clipboard of a device with iOS 14, a notification emerges.
TikTok parent company ByteDance, based in Beijing, said earlier this year that it planned to put a halt to accessing devices’ clipboards, The Verge reported. In June, the company said it submitted an update to the App Store to get rid of the feature, which it called an “anti-spam” measure. Reddit and LinkedIn said they would change the code in their apps that automatically copies clipboard information stored on people’s phones after Apple’s iOS updates highlighted the behavior.