Report says Thread, Instagram are worst platforms on user privacy

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The result ranks social media platforms beginning from the worst in terms of user privacy protection
The result ranks social media platforms beginning from the worst in terms of user privacy protection

A new study by Home Security Heroes has revealed that Threads, Instagram and other Meta platforms are the worst social media platforms for protecting user privacy.

The study also showed that Meta platforms, particularly Thread, Instagram, Facebook and Messenger collect 86% user data for advertising and marketing purposes, which is way more than any other social media platform does.

The researchers assessed how social media apps protect their user privacy based on the following:

  • Data collection – How apps collect data: They used the 14 privacy labels on the App Store to figure out which social media apps tracked the most personal information about their users for marketing reasons. The number of privacy labels an app has out of 14 determines how much personal information it monitors.
  • User control – How apps let users control their data: They looked into the privacy and security settings of each app and counted how many features it has.
  • Security – How secure is the app: How many security methods are these apps using?: For example, SMS authentication, two-factor identification (2FA).
  • User experience – How easy is it for users to set their privacy settings: How many steps do users need to take to get to the page where they can change their privacy settings? For example, with Twitter, users go through 4 steps: Click More icon → Settings and Support → Settings and Privacy → Privacy and Safety.

A score out of 10 is then given to each metric, and the total score is based on the formula.

Per the results, Threads and Instagram scored a full 10, while, Facebook and Messenger scored 9.2 each. Only VK came between them in the top five with a 9.5 score.

The report shows that all of Meta Platforms’ app collect a minimum of 86% of user data for advertising and marketing purposes, which is way higher than the second place app, X (Twitter), which collects 57% of users’ data for same purposes.

Cost to Users

Using Morning Consult’s  poll, the research were able to find out how much users would charge a company for access to each piece of information the app collects. Then, they added up how much this data costs to find out how much the app costs each user.

“If we think of the personal information apps collect about us as the price we have to pay to use them, users pay $15,600, or $3900 per app, to use Meta’s social media apps, while LinkedIn and Flixster also cost users more than $3000 to use,” the report said.

The researchers also found that 68% of social media apps track their users’ data for advertising and marketing, 62% track users’ personal data for their own marketing benefits, and 43% of apps share users’ data with third parties.

Safest Platforms

The study also determined the safest social media platforms in terms of privacy protection Flickr came up tops complete zero user data collection.

Other platforms that collect zero user data are Nexopa, Clubhouse, which is fast becoming popular in Ghana, and Likee, another popular platform in Ghana.

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