Early this morning, I was minding my own business when I saw this Twitter post from Dan Levy that got my attention:
I have to admit that this got my attention. So in the interest of confirming or denying this, I grabbed an Android phone and installed the Facebook app (after first creating a Facebook account to test this out with). It took me over an hour, but I was able to replicate this. Not only that, when I was able to replicate this the app was closed at the time which doesn’t exactly give me the warm fuzzies.
Now I know that Facebook is the type of platform where it tries to mine your data in any and every way possible so that they can make a buck or two. Thus you cannot expect any level of privacy. But the fact they are looking at your clipboard takes how invasive they are to a whole new level. Because I am not an avid Facebook user, I had no idea that this was the case. However thanks to some quick research, it is apparent that this is not a new behavior as there’s a Reddit post from October of last year that shows that this behavior was noticed back then and it seems to be cross platform as the iOS version does something similar. Plus there’s another mention of it that seems to back that up from earlier that month.
So, let’s get to the central question. Should you be worried about this? I say maybe you should be. Why? It isn’t clear to me what the company might be doing with anything in your clipboard. Are they using it to simply allow you to add links in your clipboard to posts quickly, or are they mining it somehow? Plus it could be really easy to accidentally post something to your Facebook timeline which could end badly for you. And the fact that this “feature” if you want to call it that works when the app is closed is problematic. Finally, there does not seem to be a way to disable this (But if there is a way to disable it and I am missing it, please comment below and let me know). The bottom line is that while Facebook users should expect that their data is being used, I am not sure if they signed on for this level of invasive behavior. Though I admit that I could be completely wrong and Facebook users are fine with this…. Though Dan Levy who brought this to my attention clearly isn’t a Facebook user who is fine with this. What do you think? Please post a comment and share your thoughts.