Instagram Promises It's Not Snooping on iOS Users' Cameras, Says It’s a Bug

Illustration for article titled Instagram Promises Its Not Snooping on iOS Users Cameras, Says It’s a Bug
Photo: Denis Charlet (Getty Images)

Apple’s iOS 14 beta has proven surprisingly handy at sussing out what apps are snooping on your phone’s data. It ratted out LinkedIn, Reddit, and TikTok for secretly copying clipboard content earlier this month, and now Instagram’s in hot water after several users reported that their camera’s “in use” indicator stays on even when they’re just scrolling through their Instagram feed.

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According to reports shared on social media by users with the iOS 14 beta installed, the green “camera on” indicator would pop up when they used the app even when they weren’t taking photos or recording videos. If this sounds like deja vu, that’s because Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, had to fix a similar issue with its iOS app last year when users found their device’s camera would quietly activate in the background without their permission while using Facebook.

In an interview with the Verge, an Instagram spokesperson called this issue a bug that the company’s currently working to patch.

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“We only access your camera when you tell us tofor 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,” they told the outlet. “We do not access your camera in those instances, and no content is recorded.”

What’s likely happening, the spokesperson added, is that the indicator is mistakenly popping up when the user swipes from the in-app camera either to their feed or to Create Mode. Instagram has promised to have a fix for this issue in a future update to its iOS app.

Even though iOS 14 is still in beta mode and its privacy features aren’t yet available to the general public, it’s already raised plenty of red flags about apps snooping on your data. Though TikTok, LinkedIn, and Reddit may have been the most high-profile examples, researchers Talal Haj Bakry and Tommy Mysk found more than 50 iOS apps quietly accessing users’ clipboards as well. And while there are certainly more malicious breaches of privacy, these kinds of discoveries are a worrying reminder about how much we risk every time we go online.

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Gizmodo weekend editor. Freelance games reporter. Full-time disaster bi.

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DISCUSSION

49 more apps doing same thing as TikTok. Many that are more likely to be on business and govt phones. Apps that, unlike TikTok, have not updated to stop accessing the clipboard.

And I don’t hear the administration calling for them to be banned. I don’t see that special legislation has been introduced to bar their usage. I don’t see people in the forums or comments calling for those apps to be banned.

Wonder why that is.