6 Popular Apps You Didn't Realize Are Collecting Your Personal Data

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Recently, FaceApp has been getting a lot of attention — and not just for the filter that lets people see how they might look when they're older. Over the past week, people have expressed security concerns, mainly because the app processes your photos by storing them in a cloud. But FaceApp isn't the only app that collects personal data from you.

In a statement to TechCrunch, FaceApp refuted any privacy concerns, saying that most photos uploaded to servers are deleted within 48 hours. Explaining why the photos are processed on the server in the first place, as opposed to locally on your phone, the company said, "The main reason for that is performance and traffic: we want to make sure that the user doesn’t upload the photo repeatedly for every edit operation." Additionally, the company specified that it doesn't share or sell info, presumably including any facial data info, to third parties.

When it comes down to it, FaceApp is one of many other apps that analyzes your photos in some form or another. Though not all companies collect the same exact information, most probably know more about you than you thought. Here are six other popular apps that collect some personal data, whether it's details about your face, browsing history, or your geographic location.



According to Facebook's Help Center, the app analyzes your photos to some extent:

Our technology analyses the pixels in photos and videos, such as your profile picture and photos and videos that you’ve been tagged in, to calculate a unique number, which we call a template. We compare other photos and videos on Facebook to this template and if we find a match we’ll recognize you.

Pixel analysis is a primary method of identifying human faces across a multitude of photos. The facial recognition setting is on by default, but you can turn off the ability if you'd like.

Additionally, according to The Guardian, Facebook tallies every time you log into the app, where you were when you logged in, and what device you used.



According to Instagram's online Help Center (like its parent company Facebook), the app uses face recognition technology but allows you to opt out. Similarly, the photo-sharing platform says in its Data Policy that "our systems automatically process content and communications you and others provide to analyze context and what's in them."

This collection includes the hashtags you follow, pages you view, and people you follow. The platform also monitors information like how your mouse moves across the screen, whether the window you've opened is in the foreground or background, apps and accounts you use on your device, and any Family Device IDs you may be linked to.



WhatsApp is currently allowing users on iOS phones to sign in using facial recognition software, an extension of Apple FaceID software.

Though WhatsApp says it keeps your messages private, it will also "connect your phone number with Facebook's systems," according to a WhatsApp blog post from August 2016. In doing so, it says "Facebook can offer better friend suggestions and show you more relevant ads if you have an account with them."



According to The Guardian, Google collects information on all of your searches (including your deleted ones), has all of your YouTube history, and has an advertisement profile that's based on some of that information.



Photos you upload through your Amazon Prime account are automatically analyzed to recognize faces, locations, and objects, according to Amazon's Help and Customer Service website. Of course, this is an appealing option if you want to store your photos and have them automatically organized. Though Amazon states that it never shares its analysis of your photos with other entities, if your primary concern is the automatic nature of the analysis to begin with, you can disable the service.



Odds are that back in the day, you might have had a Flickr account. In fact, you might even have one now. And it turns out that Flickr stores some of your data: this storage includes image-recognition technology that is meant to help you automatically tag your photos. But, that also means that the tech is automatically searching through and analyzing your photographic data.

Additionally, Flickr collects and stores data about the hardware and software you’re using to take and upload your photos. According to Flickr's privacy policy, "We collect information about the computer or mobile device you use to access our Services, including the hardware model, operating system and version, screen resolution, color and depth, device identifiers and mobile network information."

Sure, privacy policies and disclaimers can be annoying to read through, but it can't hurt to be aware of what your apps are allowed — and not allowed — to know about you. And though it's important to recognize all of the ways your personal data is being used or collected, it doesn't mean that every single one of them is bad.