Facebook and Instagram “worst” apps for privacy

Facebook and Instagram are the least privacy-sensitive apps out there, while X is the most at ease about sharing private data with third parties, according to new research.

Meta-owned Facebook and Instagram were found to be the most “data-hungry” of the 100 popular apps analyzed for the study carried out by a cybersecurity firm Surfshark.

It ranked apps based on 32 data points they collect and are defined in Apple’s privacy policy, including browsing history, payment information, and precise location.

“Analyzing 100 popular apps on the App Store, we’ve found a concerning trend: nearly 20% of collected data is used for tracking,” said Agneška Šablovskaja, lead researcher at Surfshark.

“Such tracked data can be shared with third-party advertisers or data brokers, who use it to deliver personalized ads targeting the users, or aid companies in market research,” Šablovskaja said.

Researchers found Facebook and Instagram to be “the worst apps for privacy.” Both were found to collect information about their users across the board.

Of the 32 data points collected about their users, Facebook and Instagram used seven for tracking, including name, physical address, and phone number. The rest were linked to user identity but not used for tracking, researchers said.

Meanwhile, X, formerly known as Twitter, collected less data about its users but was the least squeamish of the bunch to share it with third parties. Of the 22 data points it collected and identified with users, almost half were used to track them.

Overall, the study covered 10 social media and messaging apps, which were found to collect more data about their users than average.

Unlike Facebook and Instagram, another Meta-owned platform, WhatsApp, did not use collected data points to track users across third-party platforms, one of only three in the category not to do so alongside Telegram and Signal.

Signal was found to be the best social media and messaging app for privacy and the second-best overall, collecting just one data point – a phone number – that is not linked to user identity and not used for tracking.

TikTok, Reddit, Snapchat, and Discord were the remaining four social media apps covered by the study.

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