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"Hidden text" being copied to the clipboard?

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Grand Dizzy
 
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Post Posted February 19th, 2019, 10:58 am

This is an issue I find very disturbing indeed.

Lately, when I use the clipboard in Firefox, I have sometimes noticed that it copies "hidden" text. This "hidden" text sometimes seems to be formatting tags, which magically formats the text when pasted into a comments box on certain websites. Even more disturbingly, if I paste that same text into a text editor, there seems to be no trace of the hidden formatting text!

I cannot express how disturbing and creepy I find this! I'm sure we can all agree that a web browser should only ever copy and paste VISIBLE text! That is, after all, how clipboards work. You see what you're copying. If you can't see what you're copying and pasting, then you don't even know what your clipboard contains, rendering the clipboard effectively useless.

I cannot even begin to imagine why anyone would want a clipboard that copies hidden text?

Is there any way to disable this strange "hidden text" feature in Firefox? And can anyone explain what is happening? Especially why the hidden text doesn't appear when pasted into a text editor.

Brummelchen
 
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Post Posted February 19th, 2019, 11:29 am

if a tag has style display: none or no visibility, it can be copied IMO though. page of example?

morat
 
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Post Posted February 19th, 2019, 11:54 am

A text editor only pastes a text format.

The following utility shows the list of all formats that are stored in the clipboard.

InsideClipboard
http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/inside_clipboard.html

Windows Dev Center - About the Clipboard
http://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows ... /clipboard

These are the only clipboard preferences that I know to make the browser more secure.

* dom.allow_cut_copy
* dom.event.clipboardevents.enabled

Firefox configuration hardening
http://github.com/pyllyukko/user.js
Last edited by morat on February 19th, 2019, 10:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Frank Lion

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Post Posted February 19th, 2019, 12:05 pm

Grand Dizzy wrote:I cannot even begin to imagine why anyone would want a clipboard that copies hidden text?

No one else is going to even begin to imagine this either....as you haven't posted a link or example of where this is happening.

Find it as creepy and disturbing as you like, just post something more than this vague stuff so far.
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Grand Dizzy
 
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Post Posted February 20th, 2019, 11:47 am

morat wrote:A text editor only pastes a text format.

Right… and if you select any text in Firefox and press Ctrl+C, the only thing that could possibly be copied to your clipboard is text.

morat wrote:These are the only clipboard preferences that I know to make the browser more secure.

* dom.allow_cut_copy
* dom.event.clipboardevents.enabled

Yes, I have already have both of these disabled (I had a problem with websites being able to access my clipboard). But this new problem isn't about online operations, it's about what happens when I try to copy a piece of text to the clipboard.

Brummelchen wrote:page of example?

Frank Lion wrote:post something more than this vague stuff

Sorry, I thought this was a well-known phenomenon. It's been happening to me regularly for some time now.

Example:

1. Do a Google search for "definition word"
2. The word "word" appears in bold at the top of the results.
3. Double click it to select, and copy it.
4. Paste it into a YouTube comments box
5. The word "word" appears, followed by a line break, followed by the word "dictionary" in large bold text! Where did this extra word and formatting come from?

Or

1. Search Google for "random"
2. On the first result, select only the word "RANDOM" from the link.
3. Paste this into a YouTube comment.
3. The word appears on a new line, in large blue underlined text!
(It's almost like Google somehow "knows" that you copied it from a link. But this should be impossible if Firefox only copies visible text to the clipboard.)

Or

1. Do a Google search for "ascii code for multiply"
2. At the top of the Google results, copy the word "Character" in bold, and paste it into a YouTube comment. The result is strangely formatted text, unlike normal text.
3. On the Google results, copy the word "Character" in bold under the first result. Paste this into a YouTube comment and the result is italic text.

To me, this all seems like a privacy nightmare. It seems like websites are able to somehow "load" text with invisible tags that are hidden in your clipboard and secretly read when the text is pasted. This means that every site out there can tell what other sites you've been looking at - all you have to do is copy a word from one site to the other!

This is why I call this "creepy and disturbing". No need to mock me, I just care about privacy.

RobertJ
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Post Posted February 20th, 2019, 12:13 pm

Grand Dizzy wrote:Example:

1. Do a Google search for "definition word"
2. The word "word" appears in bold at the top of the results.
3. Double click it to select, and copy it.
4. Paste it into a YouTube comments box Word document
5. The word "word" appears, followed by a line break, followed by the word "dictionary" in large bold text! Where did this extra word and formatting come from?


I did this using FF on a Mac and pasted into a Word doc instead of YouTube comment. Same result.

As far as your question I assume it must be a Google thing; because, if I search using DuckDuckGo only the word "word" is copied to the clipboard.

Remember, Google is evil :twisted:

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Frank Lion

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Post Posted February 20th, 2019, 1:32 pm

Grand Dizzy wrote:This is why I call this "creepy and disturbing". No need to mock me, I just care about privacy.

Says the person using Google!

It seems like websites are..... This means that every site out there........

You mean every site like the Google owned Google Search every site and the Google owned Youtube every site?

Grand Dizzy wrote:No need to mock me...

Reckon I'll be the judge of that.
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morat
 
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Post Posted February 20th, 2019, 1:35 pm

When you select the text the browser highlights part of the hidden h3 element content.

Code: Select all
<span ...>word</span>
<h3 ...>Dictionary result for word</h3>

If you remove the span class attribute in the inspector, then you can see "word" and "Dictionary" selected.

Brummelchen
 
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Post Posted February 20th, 2019, 1:57 pm

2. On the first result, select only the word "RANDOM" from the link.
3. Paste this into a YouTube comment.
3. The word appears on a new line, in large blue underlined text!

you copy the complete part, either text and html coded text.
youtube is able to use html formated code, i viewed same for wilders security in the full featured text editor. others only can use plain text and ignore the html formatted part.

so you need an extension which convert or limit copied text to plain text format. firefox is behaving normal.

RobertJ
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Post Posted February 20th, 2019, 2:12 pm

.
As noted above, Google is evil :twisted:

Use a different search engine like DuckDuckGo or Bing which don't have that issue. There are others. Also,

Grand Dizzy wrote:This is why I call this "creepy and disturbing". No need to mock me, I just care about privacy.


If you REALLY care about privacy, DO NOT SEARCH WITH GOOGLE!

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therube

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Post Posted February 20th, 2019, 5:45 pm

If you select, carefully, w o r d, you get "word".
If you double-click, you're subject to get more.

Alternatively, select, double-click & then check View Source Selection & see what each returns.


Oh, & don't forget that way displays on the "status bar" for a URL may not necessarily be the URL that is actually linked to :evilgrin:.
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Grand Dizzy
 
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Post Posted February 21st, 2019, 10:57 am

Brummelchen wrote:so you need an extension which convert or limit copied text to plain text format. firefox is behaving normal.

Surely all copied text should be plain text? What possible reason could there be to allow non-plain text to enter the clipboard? That's just opening up the web for abuse? People surely want to see what they're copying and know what they're copying. The clipboard is a simple tool. It seems like Firefox is trying to turn it into something more complicated, for no apparent reason?

RobertJ wrote:.
As noted above, Google is evil :twisted:

Use a different search engine like DuckDuckGo or Bing which don't have that issue.

I agree that it's an evil company - they take down videos, censor free speech, and promote immorality. However, I've used their search engine for 20 years and never had any problems with it. Using it doesn't affect my privacy, nor does watching YouTube videos.

I don't consider the information I type into a search engine to be particularly sensitive or personal, and I'm fully aware that Google know what I've typed into their search box, and what videos I've watched. They don't publish that information publicly, so I don't care.

However, if my web browser is allowing sites to mess with my clipboard, that could have very serious implications. Above all else, it's not behaving the way it's supposed to and that bothers me. Hitting Ctrl+C in a web browser is ONLY supposed to copy visible text.

The clipboard is a very sensitive part of the computer. It contains passwords, personal information, or even nude photos. At all times, the user needs to have full control of what is going in and out of it. A web browser should have almost NO access to the clipboard, other than a strictly what-you-see-is-what-you-get text copying functionality.

Frank Lion wrote:
It seems like websites are..... This means that every site out there........

You mean every site like the Google owned Google Search every site and the Google owned Youtube every site?

No, this isn't about Google, it's the general principle. I don't trust ANY site and assume every site has bad intentions. There are enough privacy problems as there are, without new ones being opened by Firefox allowing sites to do strange things with the clipboard.

Frank Lion

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Post Posted February 21st, 2019, 11:32 am

Grand Dizzy wrote:Surely all copied text should be plain text? What possible reason could there be to allow non-plain text to enter the clipboard? That's just opening up the web for abuse? People surely want to see what they're copying and know what they're copying. The clipboard is a simple tool.

Talking of simple tools, have you ever used an Email program in the last 20 years on so?

If so, when you were composing an email and wanted to paste something into it, what do you think the right click context menu meant by the 'Paste' and 'Paste Without Formatting' entries.

Take your time.
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RobertJ
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Post Posted February 21st, 2019, 11:58 am

Grand Dizzy wrote:There are enough privacy problems as there are, without new ones being opened by Firefox allowing sites to do strange things with the clipboard.

FF is not allowing anything. You are on the Google search site and when you select on that site Google "allows"; the copy is an OS function. Using other search engines do not "allow".

Note, if I do the same thing using Chrome, Safari or Opera I get the same result when using Google to search for "definition word". The hidden text is copied.

So it seems that all four browsers work the same. I wonder, what is the common denominator?

Image

GOOGLE

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tomatoshadow2

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Post Posted February 21st, 2019, 2:24 pm

How would you get a clipboard that copies text you can't see?

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