TikTok to stop spying on iPhone users after iOS14 exposes huge flaw

TikTok spying
(Image credit: Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)

It turns out the iOS 14 beta isn't just for those looking to give those new widgets for a whirl — the newest iPhone software is also a security watchdog that's just caught the ultra-popular app TikTok doing something it shouldn't. 

According to Forbes, Apple's iOS 14 has identified out TikTok as one of the several apps snooping on users's iPhone clipboards. When security researchers reported the data privacy issue earlier this year, TikTok parent company ByteDance allegedly denied intentional involvement. But with new iOS 14 users able to receive "paste" warnings when apps are reading their clipboards, it doesn't seem the social media app can dance its way out of being caught.

Twitter user Jeremy Burge shared a screen recording earlier this week showing the new clipboard paste warning in action. Burge had installed the iOS 14 beta after it launched for developers on Monday, and noticed the next-generation software tattling on TikTok despite ByteDance telling Forbes it fixed the issue in April.

TikTok said the warning seen in the screen recording is “triggered by a feature designed to identify repetitive, spammy behavior." The company also told Forbes that that an update addressing the behavior is “already submitted" to Apple's App Store.

There's no way to know what TikTok is doing with the copied clipboard data — it could be nothing, which might come as relief to TikTok users but exposes a larger iPhone threat at hand. Malicious iOS apps could scrape your usernames, passwords, credit card numbers or any other information you might have copied and pasted.

iOS 14 will detect when this data abuse is taking place, but it won't roll out for the public until the fall when the iPhone 12 debuts.

How to stop TikTok from snooping on you

iPhone users should update their TikTok app to the latest version as soon as it becomes available. Until then, be mindful of the content you copy to your clipboard. You might want to take a break from the app if you do find yourself using the copy and paste feature for personal data.

And if you must know whether TikTok other apps are stealing the information copied to your clipboard, you can download the iOS 14 beta right now. The current version is intended for developers looking to integrate iOS 14 features in their products, so there are some caveats to consider before installing the software on your phone. 

That said, those currently using the iOS 14 beta could continue to flag apps that show the paste warning. Again, be sure to run app updates as they become available — they could designed to keep your personal data safe.

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef.