Instagram is the most “invasive” apps on your smartphone, a new study has revealed. The Facebook-owned social network, which centres around sharing photos and videos, tracks 79 percent of users’ personal data to share with third-parties, like advertisers. Search history, your current location, contacts and financial information are all shared with third-parties, the study has revealed. Yikes.
The research was conducted by cloud storage firm pCloud. To determine which app is responsible for siphoning most of your data, pCloud analysed the App Privacy labels recently introduced to the Apple App Store. Apple now requires all developers – including itself – to disclose exactly how users’ data will be used. This includes breaking down how data will be used by the app in order for features to work as planned ….and how much data is collected and shared with third-parties.
“Any information you agree to be gathered by an app when signing up can be analysed for their benefit and even shared. Everything from your browsing history, to your location, your banking details, your contact details, and your fitness levels can be valuable for apps to store, use, or sell on,” Ivan Dimitrov, a digital manager at pCloud, wrote in a blog post detailing the research. “With over 1 billion monthly active users it’s worrying that Instagram is a hub for sharing such a high amount of its unknowing users’ data.”
Instagram has become a hugely important part of Facebook’s portfolio. That’s because it is estimated that over half of Instagram users worldwide are aged 34 years or younger. That’s a crucial demographic for Facebook as it’s one that has slowly left Mark Zuckerberg’s behemoth social network, which tends to skew older now than when it first launched as a University-exclusive platform over a decade ago.
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Facebook has publicly criticised Apple’s App Privacy labels. The Californian social network last year paid for full-page advertisements in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times to declare that it was “standing up to Apple” and highlight that data collection was essential for small businesses …and its own bottom-line.
When it comes to gathering data on its users, second only to Instagram is parent company Facebook. The social network dished out 57 percent of users’ data to third-parties, which pCloud researchers claim can also include companies that are associated with the company. In Facebook’s case, that includes Instagram and WhatsApp.
Moving away from social networks, food delivery apps like Deliver and Uber Eats were also in the Top 10 worst offenders. Trainline, YouTube, Duolingo and eBay also make that list.
So, what about the smartphone apps keeping your data, search history, preferences and contact’s details under lock and key? Well, pCloud have highlighted rival food delivery apps Just Eat, Grubhub and McDonald’s as some of the best examples when it comes to preserving users’ data.
Privacy-focused messaging apps Signal and Telegram were also praised, while Netflix and BBC iPlayer are some of the best streaming services when it comes to keeping your data from being shared with third-parties.
“The changes mean people can more easily consider privacy issues when choosing whether or not to buy or download an app,” the Competition and Markets Authority praised the App Store’s Privacy Labels when they launched earlier this year. “Safeguarding people’s control over their data is important for protecting privacy as well as for the healthy operation of the market.”