I just love the way smartphones have enhanced our lives. One impressive feature that continually gets better on these phones is the quality of camera built into them. The iPhone 7 Plus is one example of a phone with almost professional picture taking abilities.
This, of course, has led to the invention of the "selfie." Recently, an app has become very popular that lets you enhance your selfie photos. Unfortunately, this app is tracking your every move.
We're talking about the Chinese app Meitu. The app has gone viral in the U.S. over the last couple of weeks. You've probably seen people turning themselves into cartoonish looking characters on social media.
How Meitu is tracking you
What's happening is, the Meitu app is tracking its users for advertising purposes. It's happening on both iOS and Android.
Here is what's being collected on both platforms:
- iPhone - Your location and information on your mobile provider. Your IP address and a unique identifier generated to track you.
- Android - International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) is the unique number used to identify your gadget. If your phone is reported stolen, this number can be put on a blacklist and some networks won't allow it to join. This number is being sent from the Meitu app to servers in China.
Meitu asks for permission to collect some of this data when you download the app. Not all of it, though.
Many other apps are already collecting this data in the same manner. It is used for advertisers to provide what's known as targeted ads.
At this time there are no reports of malicious activity coming from this app. It might just be constantly running in the background of your phone, which could cause your battery to drain faster than normal.
How to stop apps from tracking you
You do have the option to limit how apps track you for ad purposes.
- On iOS - Go to Settings >> Privacy >> toggle on Limit Ad Tracking.
- On Android - Go to Settings >> tap Apps >> tap the Gear menu in the top right >> choose App permissions >> scroll down to phone. Here you will see all apps that have permission to obtain tracking information and you can turn them off. However, doing this might cause some apps to crash.