Camera indicator panics users into believing Instagram is spying on them through their iPhones

An iOS 14 indicator implied that the app was using the camera without user's knowledge

Adam Smith
Tuesday 28 July 2020 09:29
Comments

A bug in Instagram’s code led users to believe that the app was turning on users’ smartphone cameras while they were just scrolling through the feed.

Users noticed an indicator after they downloaded the iOS 14 Beta, the upcoming operating system for Apple's iPhones, which alerts users when apps are using certain private data such as their location or camera.

A green FaceTime symbol appears at the top of the Control Panel – accessible when swiping down from the top right corner on the newest iPhones – when the camera is activated.

Many people believed Instagram had been engaging in nefarious activities, and that the camera was secretly being used to spy on users.

However, Instagram has clarified that the issue was due to an error, rather than the company spying on users.

Instagram said that the reason for the indicator was due to Instagram’s “Create Mode” – allowing users to share posts that do not contain photos or videos by swiping left from the home feed or through the Instagram camera.

Swiping into that mode could activate the notification erroneously.

“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,” a spokesperson told The Verge.

“We do not access your camera in those instances, and no content is recorded.”

This is not the only instance where iOS 14’s notifications have alerted users to strange activities. TikTok, Reddit, and LinkedIn, among 53 other applications, were found to be accessing the iPhone clipboard without user knowledge.

The clipboard is where content that is copied is kept before it is pasted. TikTok said it would stop the practice, which the company says was to identify “repetitive, spammy behaviour”.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in