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If you care about privacy, delete these 4 apps from your phone

June 10th, 2021 at 4:50 PM
Mobile apps

At WWDC 2021 a few days ago, Apple made it clear that the iPhone maker is doubling down on its commitment to privacy with future software updates, like the slew of privacy-related improvements coming to iOS 15 later this year. Among other things, those forthcoming changes will make it harder for marketers to snoop on users they send emails to, and the things that people do on the web will be obscured even more from prying eyes — to say nothing of recent Apple enhancements like App Tracking Transparency, which lets iPhone users tell apps like Facebook to stop spying on things they do on the web outside of Facebook.

But even the best of intentions from a company that values user privacy, however, can’t save those same users from themselves. Meaning, there are plenty of mobile apps a person could install onto their devices that can negate some or even much of the work that Apple is trying to accomplish here.

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A report from Blissmark, for example, calls out several mobile apps as being particularly egregious when it comes to their degree of creepiness and how little they seem to care about privacy. In such a way that it pretty much leaves the reader with the impression that if you care about privacy at all, you probably shouldn’t have these apps installed on your mobile device:

  • mSpy: This one, Blissmark says, is “a stalkerware app that markets itself to parents, offering an opportunity to track their child’s online activity … The app monitors iPhone text messages, phone calls, GPS locations, and activity on other popular applications like WhatsApp and Snapchat.”
  • Words with Friends: “This popular app is like a fast game of Scrabble,” FTC Guardian notes, “and it’s great for brushing up on your vocabulary or being humbled by small children. However, it’s from the same developer as Draw Something, so it’s no surprise it has the same privacy worries. However, it goes a step further with the ‘Precise location’ permission. While it does use your location for the game, it also uses it to show you location-based ads.”
  • Facebook: Not too much of an explanation should be needed here, with the social networking giant’s privacy sins well-documented at this point. And the hits keep coming at Facebook, which recently forced on WhatsApp users a privacy policy that allows the company to collect more data from the chat app. Facebook also minimized the privacy implications related to a data breach from a few years ago that resurfaced in the worst possible way recently. Facebook is also reportedly working on a watch that would monitor its user’s heart rate in addition to tracking fitness activities. Is that the kind of sensitive health data that you would trust Facebook with?
  • Facebook Messenger: Deleting Facebook over privacy concerns would also necessitate removing other Facebook-owned apps, like Facebook Messenger, by the way.

Along these same lines, check out this recent report from the cloud storage company pCloud, which prepared a list of apps along these same lines that aren’t exactly the best when it comes to handling user privacy. It includes offenders like Uber Eats and LinkedIn, among others.

Related coverage:

Article updated for clarity.

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Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.




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