What you need to know
- Apple released a new privacy feature for apps on the App Store earlier this week.
- The new 'App Privacy' section of an app listing reveals just how much of your data an app might be using.
- Facebook has been highlighted as an early egregious culprit.
Apple's new 'App Privacy' section of its App Store has revealed the harrowing amount of data Facebook takes from its users.
Released earlier this week, apps in the App Store now have an 'app privacy' section designed to show users at a glance the kind of data they might be handing over to an app. First announced at WWDC, the 'nutrition labels' have three categories:
- Data used to track you – data that is used to track you from app to app or service to service. This is the kind of data that means you see the same product across multiple ads in multiple apps, for example. If one app knows you were looking at shoes, another app will also know that as well.
- Data linked to you – data that is tied to your identity, whether that's based on your user account, a device, or something else.
- Data not linked to you - Data collected but not linked to you via account or device, nor can it be used to track your activity.
Whilst Facebook is not renowned for being a very "private" app, the revelation of just had much data Facebook actually collects and uses is absolutely terrifying. As noted on Twitter by a couple of different users:
This isn’t even a joke Tweet. Seriously. https://t.co/FLnBzjGML8 pic.twitter.com/B00jtQKVzRThis isn’t even a joke Tweet. Seriously. https://t.co/FLnBzjGML8 pic.twitter.com/B00jtQKVzR— Noah Evans 🇺🇦 (@ThisIsNoahEvans) December 15, 2020December 15, 2020
The plain text of Facebook's 'App Privacy' section on the App Store (opens in new tab) runs to over 650 words, and you don't have to read the whole thing to get an idea of just how intrusive Facebook actually is as an app. Data used to track users include; your address, email address, name, phone number, whilst data linked to users includes; purchase history, precise location information, photos and videos, contacts, health & fitness analytics, and more. The list goes on and on.
It's worth a cautionary note that users do have to agree to share this data, some of it through an app's terms and conditions, others through privacy and permission settings baked into iOS. It is also worth noting that Facebook will not be the only app that runs up a big "privacy bill" as documented by Apple's new feature.
Apple has included privacy information about its own apps included in iOS to its website, on a new 'Privacy page' you can view here. (opens in new tab)
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Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.
Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9
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