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October 29, 2019

Privacy Tip of the Week: Delete These 7 Apps

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There’s an app for everything in 2019. They provide entertainment in the form of games, video players, and music streaming. They offer function through email, calendars, and file sharing. Apps also allow us to communicate across the globe, with messengers and video calling services. However, for as useful as they are, they can be just as dangerous to our privacy. In order to keep yourself safe, delete these 7 apps, which are some of the most privacy-invasive:

Facebook

This particular service shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Facebook is constantly in the news for new breaches of user privacy. The service tracks users across all points of access, including through their app and browser site. In order to work properly, the app requires access to your contacts, call logs, messages, camera and microphone, your internal storage, wi-fi, and your location. Facebook knows when you log in and out of a session, what you look at during your session, and more. They then use that data to serve you targeted ads and, on more than one occasion, consumer data has been leaked through breaches. While deleting Facebook altogether might be difficult, simply deleting the app from your devices can improve your privacy.

Delete These 7 Apps: Facebook Messenger

It stands to reason that an app run by Facebook is going to have the same privacy-intrusive nature as Facebook itself. However, Messenger is arguably worse. Although they have now added a “secret conversation” function, normal conversations don’t employ strong encryption methods. The service also scans links and images shared in conversations and flags content they think breaches the app’s rules to be reviewed by a human moderator, making a private conversation significantly less private. While they are less popular, there are many messaging alternatives available that do a better job at protecting their users’ privacy.

Words with Friends

Multiplayer games are a great way to pass the time. However, many of them collect unnecessary amounts of user data. While we’ve titled this article “Delete These 7 Apps,” there are dozens of multiplayer game apps that affect privacy. This point is, however, best illustrated through Words with Friends, one of the worst offenders. The app wants to know your first and last name, username, gender, birthday, email, access to your contacts, content from in-game chats, your Facebook ID, your location, and more. They also track user activity through IP addresses and more.

Snapchat

Snapchat is a revolution in the way we share photos. The disappearing messages (a boon to privacy) can be jazzed up with fun filters that rotate on a constant basis. However, a little while back, the service introduced a feature that is detrimental to user privacy. Thanks to their “Snap Map” the app tracks and broadcasts user locations to their connections in the app. Although that feature has been modified to mitigate privacy risks, allowing users to turn it off, Snapchat’s use of location services is still a concern.

Delete These 7 Apps: Weather Applications

It makes sense that a weather app, such as AccuWeather, needs to know your location in order to give you an accurate forecast. However, once granted access to your location, many of these apps track you 24/7 and then sell that information to third parties, such as advertisers. In addition to weather apps, local news services may also misuse your location data.

Angry Birds

Although the Angry Birds fad has died down somewhat, a huge breach came to light back in 2014 that the NSA hacked the app to siphon user data. While the app has since claimed that the vulnerability has been fixed, the breach couldn’t have happened if they didn’t collect unnecessary amounts of user data in the first place. If you still have Angry Birds installed on your devices, consider deleting it.

Flashlight Apps

Almost all smartphones now have a built in flashlight function so downloading and installing an app for that purpose is unnecessary. If you still happen to have one on your device, delete it now. Some flashlight apps put your privacy at risk. In 2013, the FTC charged a flashlight app for sharing users’ location data to third parties without their consent. Because these apps are generally considered to be harmless, they’re also prime targets for hackers who know these services aren’t being carefully monitored.


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