Meitu — What you need to know about privacy and the filtering app
[record scratch] [freeze frame] [shot of Phil in Meitu app]
Yep, that's me. You're probably wondering how I ended up here ...
Every now and then we get hit with an app that seems to just take over. The latest — and god help me, I'm about to talk about selfies — is called Meitu. There's almost no way that you haven't seen it — or at least the results from it — in the past week or so.
It's one of those apps that takes your pictures and filters the hell out of them until you get something that looks like you, but not you. ln this case, you get a sort of China doll thing. It's available for iOS (in the App Store and Android (on Google Play), and there's a good chance you've already seen it being shared all over Facebook and Instagram.
But you might want to think twice before you install it.
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So here's the gist. You take a picture either with the Meitu app, or use one you've already snapped. The app then makeups the hell out of you in a LOT of different ways. The kids love this stuff. The cool new feature everyone's talking about, though, is the "hand-drawn" filter. It'll take a shot of you — or someone else — and change you up.
And that's great. It's a lot of fun. I feel pretty already.
But there's also a reason why you might not want to install Meitu.
Apps that are loaded up with tracking code — analytics — aren't anything new. Pretty much every single app (or website) you've ever used has had some sort of analytics tracking built in. Developers need to know how their products are being used. But questions have been raised about the way they're implemented in Meitu, and rightly so. Particularly because it harvests your phone's unique IMEI number. There are better and less-sensitive ways to identify a device.
For its part, Meitu has said that the red flags are because the app originally was coded for use in China, which has to do things behind a government-controlled firewall. Fair enough. But that doesn't mean that's the right way to code things for the rest of the world. Ultimately, you're giving access to a lot of your data just slap some makeup on your mug. Choose wisely, and stay vigilant.
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Phil is the father of two beautiful girls and is the Dad behind Modern Dad. Before that he spent seven years at the helm of Android Central. Before that he spent a decade in a newsroom of a two-time Pulitzer Prize-finalist newspaper. Before that — well, we don't talk much about those days.