Privacy Analysis: How Much Of Your Data Do Popular Apps Share?

Signal, Netflix & Clubhouse are least invasive as they don’t share data with third parties, according to a report.

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Tech and Auto
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Facebook-owned Instagram is reportedly the worst privacy offender.
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Privacy centric cloud storage firm pCloud has released a new report for App Store users which has found photo-sharing platform Instagram and social networking site Facebook in its list of ‘most invasive apps’.

According to pCloud, Facebook-owned Instagram is reportedly the worst privacy offender for sharing 79 percent of its users’ data with third parties. The second place is taken by its parent platform Facebook.

Meanwhile, apps such as Signal, Netflix, and Clubhouse are the least invasive as they do not share your data with third parties or use it for marketing at all, claims the report.

Networking platform LinkedIn and cab sharing platform Uber sell 50 percent of your data, according to the pCloud report.

Surprisingly, WhatsApp did not make it to the list of most invasive apps despite facing backlash from several of its users for updating its controversial privacy policies.

What Data Does Instagram Share?

Instagram shares 79 per cent of its users data with third party companies
Instagram shares 79 per cent of its users data with third party companies
(Photo Courtesy: pCloud)

The report suggests that Instagram shares 79 percent of its users’ data with third party companies and uses 86 percent of the data for its own marketing purposes.

Some of your data that is being shared with third parties are:

  • Purchase information
  • Contact Information
  • Contacts
  • Content
  • Search History
  • Browsing History
  • Usage Data
  • Financial Information

Facebook Second Most Invasive App

While the report suggests that Facebook shares 56 percent of its users data, what it does not mention is that the app sells the data to high profile clients and with a greater effect.

For instance, Facebook sold its users’ data to Cambridge Analytica which targeted millions of users around the world without their consent for political advertising and manipulation.

Personal data of up to 87 million Facebook users had been used by the firm to develop techniques that aided its work on former US president Donald Trump’s campaign in the 2016 US elections – making it one of the largest data leaks in the social network’s history.

Facebook was fined £500,000 for this breach of data.

Speaking to The Quint, Internet Researcher Sourajeet Majumder said, “There are multiple occasions where Facebook has been alleged to share personal data of their users with third parties without the users' consent and one of the most horrifying incidents was the ‘Cambridge Analytica Scandal’ where Facebook allowed the personal data of millions of Facebook users to be harvested in order to provide analytical assistance to the candidates for the 2016 presidential campaign”.

Clubhouse: The Safest App?

pCloud’s analysis found that Signal and Clubhouse were among the apps that are the ‘safest’ in terms of its users’ privacy.

However, a report published by Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO) alleged that Clubhouse app consists of serious security flaws which have reportedly left its users' data in the hands of the Chinese government.

“There are studies which show that Clubhouse sends metadata from rooms, and audios to servers managed by Chinese entities and if this is true the Chinese government can legally locate and store audio messages if authorities there believe the messages posed a national security threat which should be a huge concern for many of us,” Majumder added.

‘If You Are Not Paying for the Product, You Are the Product’

Everyday researchers find new high risk vulnerabilities in different applications which shows how negligent the organisations are when it comes to security or their user's privacy.

Like the 2020 docu-drama ‘The Social Dilemma’, which explores the dangerous human impact of social networking, said, “If you are not paying for the product, you are the product” – we either need to accept the terms to use their service or we will need to avoid using them.

Talking about data safety, Majumdar signed off, saying “The Indian Government will soon need to come up with its own Data Protection Law and deliver to its promises to assign rights to users over the collecting, storage and usage of their information so that the users can enjoy a safer online environment,”

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

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