If you’re at all active on social media there’s a very strong chance you saw a few fancy anime up selfies floating around in your feeds recently. These are made using an app called Meitu, which has mushroomed in popularity in the west over the last week or two.
There’s a lot more to Meitu than initially meets the eye though. As well as providing some amusing distraction and the chance to tinker with Donald Trump’s face, the app hoovers up a lot of personal data from the phones it was installed on. An awful lot. Then it sends this information to the app maker. Then the app maker is probably sharing that information with quite a lot of third parties.
If you like being the target of marketing and big data, by all means run Meitu. I’m sure whoever’s buying their data will thank you.
— Jonathan Zdziarski (@JZdziarski) January 19, 2017
Meitu isn’t even a small independent app maker. It floated on the Hong Kong stock exchange last month and is valued at more than $4 billion. Of course, even small app makers can make a tidy amount of money by selling your data to other companies thirsty for personal data.
Let me get this straight…
All of you just installed a photo app from China that requires these permissions? Let me know how it works out. pic.twitter.com/wGDUYbRdSA
— Greg Linares (@Laughing_Mantis) January 19, 2017
Why Should You Care? What Should You Do?
Whether by accident or design, many apps ask for permission to access far more personal information than they need. You have no way of knowing where that information goes after it has been whisked off your phone and onto someone else’s servers.
- Check the terms and conditions.
- Watch what permissions every app asks for when you install it and ask yourself if it really needs access to all of that information.
If you’re in any way uncomfortable with any of these, don’t install the app.
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[Image credit: Tom Sodoge on Unsplash]