For better or for worse, our cell phones can feel like fifth limbs. We use them to send off work emails, communicate with family and friends, share what we’re eating for dinner (no shame), and make grocery lists.
This convenience comes at a price: Our phones track and save large amounts of our data. In 2019, the Weather App made headlines when prosecutors said the IBM-owned business illegally obtained user location data. Further, Alexa devices, which also run using an app, eavesdrop on your everyday conversations.
So, why does it matter if your phone knows you went to Starbucks yesterday? Essentially, businesses can profit by knowing your preferences and location, targeting you with ads accordingly. They can also feed you customized content, keeping you engaged with their apps for as long as possible to generate even more ad revenue.
Other times, spyware apps allow anyone from a spouse to an employer to read your private messages or let cybercriminals access your personal information.
If you want privacy, these are the apps you should delete.
This popular app is basically a digital game of Scrabble. You can show off your vast vocabulary (or cheat) with friends or random other users and earn those enviable bragging rights. However, you might want to consider grabbing a book or sticking with the actual board game instead. FTC Guardian recently gave Words with Friends a “D” grade, as the app includes a “read phone status and identity” permission that actually gives businesses your phone number, carrier information, and call log. It also uses your location to show you geo-targeted ads.
Mspy is a stalkerware app that markets itself to parents, offering an opportunity to track their child’s online activity. However, anyone can download it to your device if you leave your phone unattended and the person knows your passcode. The app monitors iPhone text messages, phone calls, GPS locations, and activity on other popular applications like WhatsApp and Snapchat. If you notice it on your phone, delete it — stat. Unfortunately, people can download stalkerware apps to your phone remotely, and scammers often use them to ask for money or send you a link that quietly downloads even more spyware. Do not respond to these requests or click on any links from unknown numbers. And if you suspect your partner may have downloaded it? It’s time to talk about that relationship.
This one may hurt. Facebook can be a fun and convenient way to stay in touch with family and friends, sharing photos of our dinners and kids (pets included). Though founder Mark Zuckerberg has consistently vowed to make Facebook’s data practices more transparent, the social networking site can still track your off-app activity on other applications. It uses that information to target you with ads and additional information you may find useful, earning the company money and keeping you engaged with the app. If you don’t want to delete Facebook, consider looking at how the company tracks your off-app activity and managing your preferences. (Also, PSA: Fact check anything you read on the app. It may be pushing false information your way to keep you engaged.)
Smartphones have truly revolutionized everyday life. From remotely managing a business to playing cards with your friends, we’re tapping away on these devices for hours upon hours each day. Companies can learn a lot about us from our phones, and they profit greatly from buying and selling our personal data. The safest move is to delete some of these apps from your phone, particularly the ones mentioned above, which are some of the biggest players in the information game. If you aren’t ready to cut ties with your favorite apps, take a few minutes to read their data and privacy terms, manage your security settings, and keep your personal data, well, personal.
BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.
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