Thanks to the App Store’s privacy labels, it is now easier than ever to know, at a glance, what information each app collects and how it uses it. So much so that pCloud wanted to analyse this information and created a list of the 50 most invasive apps in the App Store.
Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube…
At a glance, without consulting any data, we probably already have a panoramic view of the apps that collect and share the most personal data: those whose source of income is advertising. Because of their business model, these apps collect everything they can to sell it or use it to monetise the service.
More than once we have heard that when the product is free, we are the product. Of course there are exceptions, of course, but the rule describes quite well what the following graph shows us. Here is a list of the 50 apps that collect the most personal information. The list is topped by Facebook and Instagram, which collect no less than 86% of all the data that, according to Apple’s form, can be collected.
It is important to make the following distinction: collecting data for internal use is not the same as sharing this data with third parties. In this sense, to put it very simply, a buying and selling app, for example, may know exactly which items to advertise from its catalogue and the information does not come from there, while a weather app may be selling “only” our location to hundreds of data brokers. So these tables show us only part of the story, but they do give us a picture of the situation.
When the product is free, we are the product. A phrase that frames a type of business model that monetises itself by selling the data it collects.
This brings us to the second image, which shows how much of the data collected is shared with third parties. It is striking, for example, that while Facebook and Instagram collected the same volume of data in the graph above, Facebook shares less data and retains more to power its advertising platforms. Similarly, Klarna and GrubHub, starred in the data collection chart, while Klarna ranks 26th in sharing and GrubHub does not even appear.
Every time you search for a video on YouTube, 42% of your personal data is sent elsewhere. This data is used to determine the types of ads you’ll see before and during videos, and is also sold to brands that target you on other social media platforms.
YouTube isn’t the worst when it comes to selling your data. That award goes to Instagram, which shares a staggering 79% of your data with other companies. Including everything from purchase information, personal data and browsing history. No wonder there’s so much promoted content in your feed. With over 1 billion monthly active users it’s worrying that Instagram is a hub for sharing such a high amount of its users’ data unknowingly.
In second place is Facebook, which gives away 57% of your data, while LinkedIn and Uber Eats sell 50%. In fact, when it comes to food apps, Just Eat, Grubhub and My McDonald’s are the only three in our study that don’t give up anything at all, but use your data for location tracking and their own marketing needs.
The truth is that the issue of personal information and privacy goes back a long, long way. For years, certain companies, by attracting users with “free” products, have had a huge data collection structure in place. It is also true that having a clear view of which apps we might want to avoid using is complex because until now it has required diving into a lot of privacy policies, terms of service, etc. App Store tags provide a basis for comparison and easy access to information.