Watch out for data breaches: 8 apps stealing your personal information

Digital technology has penetrated incredibly deeply into modern life. With the development of mobile devices and the growing number of people connected to the internet, the ability to receive and share information has reached unprecedented levels.

But what if these same cutting-edge developments are being used for self-serving purposes? Unfortunately, some apps are collecting sensitive user data, violating privacy for profit. In the virtual race for profit, it is very easy to disregard ethical standards.

TikTok: social network or surveillance tool?

One of the most popular apps in the world is under scrutiny due to suspicions of illegal data collection. TikTok, a video hosting service with a billion audience, is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. In 2019, ByteDance paid a $5.7 million fine for illegally collecting information from children under the age of 13.

TikTok collects a variety of information: geolocation, IP address, device type, browsing history, and even biometric data. Based on this, the app determines the race, age, and gender of users. It's not known where this data ends up, but according to CNBC, 13 out of 14 network connections lead to third parties.

Facebook: monetizing personal data

The social media giant has been criticized for privacy violations for years. Facebook tracks users' actions with the help of tracking cookies, facial recognition programs and taste analysis. The social network also determines religious beliefs, intelligence, sexual orientation and other personal characteristics.

While Facebook doesn't directly sell the data, the company gives advertisers access to users, becoming a middleman in collecting the information.

BetterHelp: when confession becomes publicly available

Mental health apps skyrocketed in popularity during the pandemic. But it turns out that some of them, including BetterHelp, are sharing user data with third parties, which is not specified in their privacy policies.

The fact is that such services are not covered by the HIPAA health information privacy law. Thus, the personal experiences and concerns of people seeking help can become public knowledge.

Twitter: direct sale of data

Unlike Facebook, Twitter directly sells user information to third parties for targeted advertising. In April 2020, the service removed the option to opt out of data sharing, forcing everyone to agree to a new privacy policy.

Previously, mobile users had the choice to disable the "Share data with Twitter partners" option. The button has now been replaced with a forced "OK" option ,allowing you to receive personalized content in exchange for personal information.

Farmville: it's not worth the gamble

Users of 1Win or Parimatch are probably familiar with the Zynga brand - the famous gaming company with hits like Words With Friends and Zynga Poker has become one of the leaders in privacy breaches. Zynga collects users' full names, age, gender, correspondence logs, email, IP addresses and browser language. And then provides access to this data to third-party organizations.

The infamous Cambridge Analytica scandal, which used players' personal information for political purposes, demonstrates just how vulnerable Zynga apps are. No casual game is worth the risk of losing sensitive information.

Gambling apps

In this section, we will not name any specific applications, noting only that users should bet only at well-known betting companies.By going to 1win Registration, the user can not worry about the safety of data, as this bookmaker is well-known and monitors its reputation. However, little-known brands can not only steal information, but also pose other dangers.

Weather services: the weather knows everything

In 2019, the city of Los Angeles sued the popular app The Weather Channel. The service illegally tracked users' location, time spent in different locations, and based on this, compiled a detailed portrait of habits and preferences.

Strava: when a fitness tracker threatens security

The Strava physical activity tracking app in 2017 accidentally revealed the location of secret military installations due to the publication of a global heat map with runners' routes.

Although there were no direct accusations of selling data, Strava's security was poor - hackers could easily access databases with personal information such as height, weight, running routes, and other details. Such inattention to protecting user data is unacceptable.