In February, Reddit’s CEO called TikTok “fundamentally parasitic,” according to a report on TechCrunch, adding “it’s always listening, the fingerprinting technology they use is truly terrifying, and I could not bring myself to install an app like that on my phone… I actively tell people, ‘Don’t install that spyware on your phone.'”
TikTok called his remarks “baseless accusations made without a shred of evidence.”
But now Apple “has fixed a serious problem in iOS 14, due in the fall, where apps can secretly access the clipboard on users’ devices…” reports Forbes cybersecurity contributor Zak Doffman, noting that one of the biggest offenders it revealed still turns out to be TikTok:
Worryingly, one of the apps caught snooping [in March] by security researchers Talal Haj Bakry and Tommy Mysk was China’s TikTok. Given other security concerns raised about the app, as well as broader worries given its Chinese origins, this became a headline issue. At the time, TikTok owner Bytedance told me the problem related to the use of an outdated Google advertising SDK that was being replaced.
Well, maybe not. With the release of the new clipboard warning in the beta version of iOS 14, now with developers, TikTok seems to have been caught abusing the clipboard in a quite extraordinary way. So it seems that TikTok didn’t stop this invasive practice back in April as promised after all. Worse, the excuse has now changed. According to TikTok, the issue is now “triggered by a feature designed to identify repetitive, spammy behavior,” and has told me that it has “already submitted an updated version of the app to the App Store removing the anti-spam feature to eliminate any potential confusion.” In other words: We’ve been caught doing something we shouldn’t, we’ve rushed out a fix…
iOS users can relax, knowing that Apple’s latest safeguard will force TikTok to make the change, which in itself shows how critical a fix this has been. For Android users, though, there is no word yet as to whether this is an issue for them as well.
Long-time Slashdot reader schwit1 also shares an online rumor from an anonymous Redditor (with a 7-year-old account) who claims to be a software engineer who’s reverse engineered TikTok’s software and learned more scary things, concluding that TikTok is a “data collection service that is thinly-veiled as a social network.”