Social media apps including Facebook and Instagram collect personal data without the users knowledge and proceed to store these data for months even after the users deletes the app. While helping people stay connected, informed and entertained, the apps are also used to harvest data.
A report by Cybersecurity experts VPN overview showed the 10 most downloaded apps in 2020 and the amount of data each collects. The study focused on three privacy indicators: permission requests, data retention (showing how long the app keeps the data after exhausting its lawful usefulness) and data collected in a way that is linked to the user’s identity.
VPN Overview’s report shows that Facebook is the most intrusive when harvesting data. The social media platform which was downloaded over 10 million times in the past year stores users’ data for up to 180 days long after it is deleted.
“The interest in app downloads is reflective of how app users feel about sharing personal information. It is however evident that users are still willing to use app features even at the expense of their personal data.” the report says.
Facebook also has the highest number of app access requests to collect the largest amount of data.
Google Meet and Zoom also store data for 180 days.
“Instagram is the second most intrusive app and has been downloaded 16 million times in the past 12 months,” say VPN Overview.
“Users are faced with nine App Access permissions including ‘allow tracking‘. The app matches Facebook by collecting 14 items of linked personal data and stores information for 90 days after deletion.”
TikTok was the most downloaded app in 2020 with over 22 million downloads.
It has the third highest downloads of data linked to the user, with six app access requests.