A Look Back at the Worst apps for Privacy in 2020
At the end of every year, we like to highlight the most important online privacy and security stories and share with you useful tips on how to improve your privacy going into the next year. As we’ve saved the traditional tips and updates guide for our ZoogVPN Special Blog that comes out on December 31st, in this Zlog post we’ll make an introduction to the topic by taking a look at another interesting aspect that affects your online privacy – pushy and intrusive apps that compromise your online privacy. In this regard, let’s talk about the three worst apps for privacy in 2020 and go over the most significant reasons why you should consider deleting them from your devices.
#1 Facebook Messenger
Messenger, and Facebook as a company in general, have been embroiled in many scandals over the years. From keeping log-in data in plain text and experiencing large-scale breaches, to using user information to spam them with ads, the company has given its users a lot of reasons to complain since 2004. When it comes to privacy-intrusive apps and services, Facebook is a first-ballot hall of famer.
With all of that in mind, one thing still rings true. Quitting Facebook is often not a practical decision, mainly because over a third of the world’s population uses it to connect with friends and family members. Unfortunately, there are no reliable secure alternatives to Facebook, so many people opt to keep their Facebook profiles despite the apparent privacy issues.
If you must use Facebook’s services, the best way to go about is to delete the Facebook and Messenger apps and instead use this social media platform only through your browser. This is a bit more impractical and inconvenient, but at least it’ll make it much harder for their algorithms to geo-target you and observe your activities.
TikTok has been available worldwide since 2018, but it was only in 2020 that it experience widespread attention, mainly due to being dubbed as one of the worst apps for privacy and as a spying tool of the Chinese government. While the allegations of the latter remain just that, it’s no secret that TikTok collects a lot of information on its users. This includes sensitive data such as IP addresses, location data, usage stats, and even keystroke pattern information.
And, with the app surpassing over 2 billion mobile downloads in October of this year, there are growing concerns that all of the collected data is stored and saved to be used for nefarious purposes. A particular concern for many privacy advocates is that TikTok targets mainly children and underage teenagers.
If you’re a privacy-conscious online user, you’re probably not using TikTok in the first place. But, in case you or anyone in your family uses this app, consider removing it from your devices, as it’s not worth the potential privacy issues it could trigger in the future.
#3 Mobile Multiplayer Games
Playing mobile multiplayer games seems like a fun and innocent pastime which you can enjoy during the boring months of the pandemic. You can socialize, experience many different game genres, and have fun with your friends while staying safe from Covid-19. However, not many mobile gamers are aware that the multiplayer games they play often harvest an astounding amount of user data.
How to Avoid Intrusive Apps
Mobile apps have become significantly more intrusive over the past few years, and it’s hard to find an app nowadays that doesn’t require you to grant access to valuable information or device features. That said, there are still ways how you can avoid installing nosy apps and stay safe and private while browsing the internet. Here are a few useful tips on how to do so:
- Research the App Before Installing It – Before you download any new app to your device, make sure to read the reviews, Google it a bit and check its reputation. Also, avoid apps that ask for permissions that they don’t need.
- Go over All of Your App Permissions – Check all of the apps you have on your mobile device and revoke permissions in case you find it necessary to do so. You’ll still be able to use a lot of apps while withholding all of the initial permissions they asked you for.
- Use a VPN to make Your Connection Private – With a Virtual Private Network, all of your connections will be private and all of the information you share on the network will be encrypted. Try ZoogVPN’s free plan for an unlimited time or opt for one of our premium plans.