Study finds Meta apps far more invasive than others

Meta apps, including Facebook, Instagram, and Threads, are the most invasive when it comes to mining and sharing its users’ personal data, according to a new study.

The Money Mongers looked at the top 100 most downloaded apps on the Apple App Store, focusing on two categories: third-party advertising, and the developer’s own advertising and marketing.

Under these categories are 14 different data points, such as purchases, locations, contact info, user content, health and fitness, and financial info. The apps were scored, based on how many data points they were taking under each category, with the average of two data categories used to create a single percentage score.

Not surprisingly, Meta’s apps shared the most of its users’ private information, with Instagram, Threads, Facebook, and Messenger all sharing a whopping 86% of this info. This is 21% points clear of the closest offender, Linkedin.

Threads, Meta’s touted Twitter/X killer, might have the benefit of not being at the whims of its new billionaire owner, but its users are paying the cost: Threads collects 72% more personal data than X, according to the study.

Meta apps also collect the most data for their own advertising and marketing benefits.

76% of the top 100 apps collect and share their users’ data in some form, with 51% of these sharing their user data with third parties. 72% of the apps also collect data for their own marketing benefit.

Contact info is the most-collected piece of data, with 92% of the top apps collecting it.

One under-reported, and scary, aspect of this data harvesting is that 36 of the top 100 apps are privy to your browsing history across various apps and websites.

The top 10 apps are taking 71% of your personal data – with four of these owned by Meta.

The likes of Uber, Linkedin, and DoorDash (not a big player in Australia yet) are among the worst culprits overall, with the likes of Amazon, Spotify, and Google lower than perhaps expected.


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