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Security & privacy

Study reveals the apps that grab the most personal data

Let’s face it: Our data is up for grabs when we use apps on our phones. Programs like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others are in the business of selling ads — and our data makes it easy for them to pinpoint their targets.

And once an app or service has your data, it’s not going to let go easily. Google itself was recently caught collecting user data even after they told it not to. Tap or click here to see why Google is being hit with a massive privacy lawsuit.

Which apps collect the most data on users? For a long time, it was easy to assume Facebook was the reigning champion. But as it turns out, the truth is far more complicated. There are several apps that harvest tons of data from users, and the worst offenders might not be who you expect.

Which sites learn the most about you? It’s not just Facebook

When we agree to the terms and conditions of any given app or website, we’re agreeing to let them collect data on us in exchange for their services. Did you really think you were getting to use them for free? Believe it or not, if something presents itself as free to use, you are usually the product being bought and sold.

More accurately, it’s your data that’s up for grabs — and the data collected by apps gets personal. Really personal.

Tap or click here to see an app that will read the terms and conditions for you.

According to cybersecurity firm Clario, apps that collect the most data from you tend to be ones where you are the focus. If you’re on an app with a custom profile, you can bet that your data is being scooped up.

Case in point: Facebook, Instagram and two dating apps take the top slots in this mindblowing study created by Clario. It shows the kind of information collected by the most popular apps and services on the web, and it’s ranked from the most data-hungry to the least. Here are the top 10 apps that know the most about you:

  1. Facebook: 70% of personal data collected
  2. Instagram: 58.82% of personal data collected
  3. Tinder: 55.88% of personal data collected
  4. Grindr: 52.94% of personal data collected
  5. Uber: 52.94% of personal data collected
  6. Strava: 41.18% of personal data collected
  7. Tesco: 38.24% of personal data collected
  8. Spotify: 35.29% of personal data collected
  9. MyFitnessPal: 35.29% of personal data collected
  10. Jet2: 35.29% of personal data collected

Here are a few key highlights from the study that you need to know:

  • Facebook is still the biggest data-grabber of all, with the company harvesting 70% of the personal data it’s allowed to collect.
  • In close second comes Instagram — another Facebook-owned service. Maybe it would be better to think of Facebook and Instagram as one entry.
  • Two dating sites are next on the list: Tinder and Grindr. Both of these apps collect astonishing amounts of information — including names, email addresses, contact information and even employment and pet ownership status.
  • Last in the top 5 comes Uber, surprisingly. It actually collects the same amount of data as Grinder — a whopping 52.94%.
  • In a shocking twist, retail apps collected less information about users than most social networks and dating sites. Amazon doesn’t even crack the top 10.

Want to know who else made the list? See the chart below for the full rankings of all 48 companies looked over in Clario’s study.

That’s a staggering amount of data to reckon with. And to make matters worse, most of these programs won’t even let you use them unless you agree to share your data.

Is privacy dead? Well, not exactly.

Follow these steps to take back your privacy

The best thing you can do to keep your data private is simply avoid sharing it. These apps collect data on you, but you still have to provide the data for them to grab it. This means leaving as many fields blank on your profiles as possible, and avoiding oversharing your life online.

Tap or click here to see if you’re oversharing on social media.

In addition, it’s also worth giving your smartphone a privacy checkup to make sure apps aren’t collecting data they don’t need. Here’s how to do it:

On iPhone:

  • Open the Settings app.
  • Scroll down and tap the Privacy icon.
  • Select a permission, like Calendar, Location Services, or Camera.
  • Choose which apps should have access to that permission and remove the permissions for the apps you don’t want to have access.

On Android:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Tap Apps & notifications, followed by Advanced App permissions.
  3. Select a permission, like Calendar, Location, or Phone.
  4. Choose which apps should have access to that permission and remove the permissions for the apps you don’t want to have access.

Being tech-smart means being data smart — and app developers want more data than ever these days. It’s up to you how much you choose to share, but you don’t need to be an open book to Facebook and Tinder. At the end of the day, they’re still multi-billion dollar companies. They’ll be fine without your info.

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