【Exclusive】A Shocking Secret Behind Social Apps

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Translator: Xiao Hong Mao

Proofreading: Lish

Image source: BBC

Anyone who surfs the internet is exposed to a wide variety of social platform apps, such as the most popular Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter. Many people use these apps, but few people bother to look closely at the privacy terms of each app.

The reason for that is many people can’t understand those long legal terms, so they all choose to agree by default. Secondly, Users have no choice but to agree with these terms if they want to use the App.

However, in the face of the constant tightening of online speech, talking about politics in Communist China is a very sensitive issue, which can lead you inside to prison. There are also cases of immovable online violence and some people with ulterior motives digging up people’s past negative history.

So, how to maximise your privacy?

First of all, for the sake of privacy and security, it is necessary to exclude all social networking software of the Chinese Communist Party, such as WeChat, QQ, Ding Talk, TikTok and so on.

The list of information that these apps collect from users can be found in the Apple Store. There is so much information to be collected that I don’t think it is necessary to list it, and I believe there is much more than what they list. Even if they have privately obtained, stored, shared and leaked users’ private information, it is challenging for users to sue them and win their case through legal means in front of their powerful legal team.

Therefore, there is essentially no privacy for those who use these Chinese Apps. The best option is not to use them and move to software that collects less private information, which is becoming more apparent among social media users these days.

Secondly, foreign social networking software, such as WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, etc., also collect more or less private information from users.

Moreover, there is much software that starts out collecting very little information. Still, as the versions are constantly updated, new permissions appear to gather more information from the users to gain profit and advertising.

WhatsApp, for example, brought in a new privacy policy in May 2021, which forces users to accept it or their accounts will be deleted.

The change has caused curses from users. I also feel that WhatsApp is bullying its customers. Does having 400 million users give them the power to act like a jerk?

The following information shows a detailed breakdown of the categories of user privacy data collected by the applications: WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Facebook Messenger.

WhatsApp

Device ID, user ID, advertising data, purchase history, rough location, contact number, email address, interaction data, crash data, performance data, other diagnostic data, payment information, customer support, other user content.

Facebook Messenger

Purchase history, other financial information, exact location, rough location, physical address, email address, name, contact number, other user contact information, photos or videos, game content, other user content, search history, browsing history, user ID, device ID, product interaction, advertising data, other usage data, crash data, performance data, other diagnostic data, other data types , health data, fitness data, payment information, audio data, customer support, other user content, sensitive information, iMessage communication text, phone number search history.

Signal

Contact information (phone number)

Telegram

Purchase information, payment information, address, contact information, contact person, user identity.

Details of the information on the Apple Store show that Facebook Messenger collects most of the data from users, followed by WhatsApp.

The list of data collected by both apps includes users’ purchase history, financial information, location details, contacts, phone numbers, email addresses and usage data.

It seems that Signal is the only one that collects the least amount of private user information, but Signal still requires a mobile phone number to register.

So, are there any social apps that don’t collect private information from users and don’t require a mobile number to register?

I typed in the following two apps inside the Apple Store App Store and checked the details of the categories in which they collect user privacy data:

GTV

Nothing is collected.

Getome

Device ID

The permissions they ask to collect caught my eye. GTV collects nothing, and Getome only collects device IDs, neither of which requires a mobile phone number to register. At this moment, I was as surprised as if I had found a new world. Out of all the apps out there in the social app market, only GTV and Getome are the best ones to protect users’ privacy!

GTV and Getome, rising stars emerge!

Privacy permission is the most basic bottom line of the app. If the app platform cares for their users and keeps this bottom line, more and more people will be willing to give their information to the platform with confidence and contribute more content. With the rapid growth of users, the future of these two apps will certainly stir up the global social media platform. It is very much looking forward to!

(The content of this article represents the views of the author only)

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