New iPhone update shows Instagram app using camera even when not taking photos (FB, AAPL)

  • People with iOS 14, the next major iPhone software update, are being notified that Instagram is accessing their camera even when they aren’t taking pictures.
  • The iOS 14 update, which is still in beta, shows a green dot at the top of people’s screens when one of their apps starts using their camera or microphone.
  • Instagram said the issue was caused by a bug that it’s working to fix. The company added that just because people got the notification doesn’t mean their cameras were actually being accessed.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

People who downloaded an early version of Apple’s next major iPhone software update, iOS 14, have been seeing an unexpected notification on their device: that Instagram is accessing their camera even when they’re not taking photos.

The iOS 14 update, which is still in beta, shows a green dot at the top of users’ screens when an app is accessing the camera or microphone. One person noted on Twitter that the notification appeared while they were scrolling their Instagram feed without any camera open, The Verge first reported.

A spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, said in a statement to Business Insider that the notifications were caused by a bug in the Instagram app that the company is working to fix. The spokesperson also said that just because people saw the notification doesn’t mean Instagram was actually accessing their camera.

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

When reached for comment, an Apple spokesperson said that users are shown the “recording indicator” notification “whenever an app is using the mic or camera.”

It’s not the first time that an iOS update has shown apps unexpectedly accessing different functionalities of people’s devices. A new iOS 14 feature showed users in June that TikTok, LinkedIn, Reddit, and other apps were quietly scraping the contents of users’ clipboards. All three apps promised to stop the practice after iOS 14 users noticed it.

And last fall, a new feature in iOS 13 started notifying people that Facebook apps were quietly using their Bluetooth in order to gather data.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that Apple will continue to roll out iOS features that give people more insight into the types of data that their apps collect. Cook has decried the “data industrial complex” of tech companies like Facebook and Google that use vast swaths of user data in order to better target advertisements.

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