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TikTok Says it Will Stop Grabbing Data From User Clipboards After New iOS Update Exposed the Process

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TikTok has said that it will remove a feature which reads data from the clipboard on user devices as they use TikTok, after a recent iOS update exposed the practice.

Jeremy Burge of Emojipedia posted this example of the process on Twitter:

As you can see, the new iOS notification repeatedly informs Burge that ‘TikTok pasted from Instagram’ as he types in the app.

The process works like this – when you have something that you’ve cut from someplace else (like a section of text or a URL), it sits on your clipboard, from which you can paste it into another app. The latest version of iOS (14) now informs you when this happens. The process has been happening for years in the background, in various apps, users just haven’t been made aware of such till now.

And it’s likely not all that nefarious. As noted, a range of apps utilize the same functionality, so that they can check to see if what you have ready to paste may be of relevance to what you’re doing in that app – i.e. you’ve cut that info to paste somewhere, and you’re using this app, in all likelihood, you’re going to paste it here.

In practice, it’s probably not a big deal, but perceptually, it doesn’t look great. And with TikTok already under scrutiny over how it moderates certain content, and even, according to some reports, records audio in the background, it makes sense that TikTok has quickly moved to remove the functionality from its app.

In the case of the latter, the rumor is similar to reports that Facebook is listening into your every day conversations, which Facebook has repeatedly denied. Such access is prohibited by OS developers, which makes this increasingly unlikely (as they risk having their apps disabled outright), but it’s another form of potentially intrusive access attached to TikTok that, true or not, adds to the suggestion that it’s essentially a spy app,

Indeed, back in February, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman said that TikTok was ‘fundamentally parasitic‘:

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“It’s always listening, [and] the fingerprinting technology they use is truly terrifying, and I could not bring myself to install an app like that on my phone.”

That ‘fingerprinting’ relates to audio and browser tracking, which matches what users are doing on TikTok with what they’re then sharing on the web. This, to some, is seen as overstepping the bounds of acceptable, and necessary, data collection – while TikTok also sucks in user GPS data, and info on other apps they might have open, detail which doesn’t appear to have any immediate bearing on your in-app experience.

That’s why military officials in various nations have banned the usage of TikTok by personnel, while the US government has also launched a national security investigation into the Chinese-owned app. The connection to the Chinese Government, through China’s strict cybersecurity laws, means that, essentially, TikTok would be required to share user data with the Chinese regime on request. 

TikTok has been working to distance itself from its Chinese roots, limiting the user data that can be accessed in different regions and appointing a new American CEO to lead to separation away from its parent company. But thus far, it remains a Chinese-owned app, and is therefore subject to the same regulations, if enforced. 

Which is why there’s such concern about its data collection processes, and why, of all apps that may be checking out your clipboard info, it matters that TikTok is doing it.

So now TikTok will stop – but it’s another concern which adds to broader perception. That doesn’t appear to have slowed the app’s momentum as yet, but it may strengthen the skepticism of those already concerned about the platform.   

Socialmediatoday.com

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Jack Dorsey Exits Twitter Board, Clearing the Way for the Elon Musk Era at the App

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Elon Musk Launches Hostile Takeover Bid for Twitter

While there’s no new news on the Elon Musk takeover saga, we do have another reminder that Twitter’s leadership team is never going to be the same, regardless of what comes next, with co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey today leaving the Twitter board, effective immediately.

Dorsey’s full exit removes another big chunk of experience from the company – over the past two weeks, Twitter has lost:

  • Consumer product leader Kayvon Beykpour, who’d worked at Twitter for four years
  • Head of revenue product Bruce Falck (5 years)
  • Ilya Brown, a VP of product management (6 years)
  • Katrina Lane, VP of Twitter Service (1 year)
  • Max Schmeiser, head of data science (2 years)

That said, Dorsey’s move, isn’t a surprise.

Back in November, when Dorsey announced that he was standing down as Twitter CEO, he also noted that he would stay on Twitter’s board till around ‘May-ish’ to help incoming CEO Parag Agrawal and incoming Twitter Board chair Bret Taylor with their respective transitions.

Of course, back then, Dorsey couldn’t have predicted the chaos on the horizon, but despite the distractions of an imminent takeover, Dorsey has decided to stick with his original plan, and step away from the platform that he helped build.

That clears the path for a new era under Elon Musk, who has vowed to make significant changes to the way that Twitter operates – though of late, Musk seems to be more distracted by stats on population decline and political conspiracies than he does in completing the Twitter deal.

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On May 13th, Musk said that his Twitter takeover offer was effectively ‘on hold’ pending more data from Twitter on its fake profile count, which it pegs at 5% of active users. Many users have since shared partial evidence that, in their opinion, proves that this number is not correct, while Twitter itself has maintained that there’s no such thing as ‘on hold’ in the takeover process, and that it’s preparing for the deal to close sometime soon.

Musk says that he won’t pay full price for something that’s not what he believed he was purchasing.

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But then again, Musk also waived doing detailed due diligence on Twitter’s business, in order to reach an agreement faster, which means that he may be tied to the purchase anyway, regardless of what Twitter or anyone else may find here.

For his part, Dorsey has been a strong advocate for Musk, and his interest in Twitter, and has noted several times that he believes Musk is the best option to ‘save’ the company.

Now Dorsey is getting out of the way to let that happen, which will mean that none of Twitter’s four founders remain in any position to advise or guide the platform in any direct capacity from now on.

That could be a good thing. Twitter, of course, is a far cry from what it was in the beginning, and maybe now it needs to detach from its founding concepts to reach its next stage.

But again, that’s a lot of experience heading out the door, with current CEO Agrawal also on the chopping block, according to Musk’s statements.

How that impacts Twitter’s future direction is hard to say. Again, Musk has already flagged significant changes, but without experienced voices advising him on what’s happened in the past, he could be doomed to repeat previous mistakes, impeding the company’s progress even more.

Or maybe it makes things easier, without the constraints of past limitations holding things up. I would lean towards the former, but clearly, Musk has his own ideas about how he’s going to transform the app, once he does, eventually, take control.

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Which seems like more of a ‘when’ than ‘if’, but maybe Musk has some other trick up his sleeve to either reduce his offer price or get out of the Twitter deal entirely.

Either way, massive changes are coming to the app, which could alter the way that it’s used entirely.

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