The observations highlight the growing problem of lack of online privacy as companies share their users’ data with third party firms without their knowledge.
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A cybersecurity firm studied applications on Apple’s app store to know which ones share data with third parties, and how much. pCloud studied top 100 app stores in the ecosystem and noted that over 52% share user data with third parties. This information includes personal data on search, browsing history and mobile device used.
Instagram leads the pack with nearly 80% of its billion monthly active users’ data going to third parties. This includes purchase history, location, contacts, usage and profile data. Its parent Facebook, and Microsoft-owned LinkedIn followed the photo-sharing app. The duo separately share more than half of its users data, the pCloud’s study noted.
The cybersecurity firm said that 80% of apps surveyed used data to market their own products. This includes apps serving their own ads on other platforms, as well as for in-app promotions for their own benefit. Facebook and Instagram collect over 85% data for their own benefit, indicating that social media apps are the worst offenders for collecting data for their own marketing, according to the study.
However, messaging app Signal, Clubhouse and streaming service Netflix are said to be the safest apps as they collect no data at all. Other safe apps include Microsoft Teams, Telegram, Google Classroom and Zoom.
“While these apps can be trusted not to do anything malicious with your information, there are lots of people out there who can’t. That’s why it’s important to have a secure place to store your data, preventing anyone from accessing it without your permission,” the study noted.