These Apps Collect the Most Personal Data

A study by pCloud concluded that social media and food delivery apps sell the most personal data to third-party advertisers. But a recent survey showed that four out of five people don’t want their personal data collected or shared without their permission. If you’re sick of invasive data collection, what are the best alternatives?

Surfshark compared the data collection activities of 200 apps to find out which services harvest the most data in a given category and which apps leave your data alone. The study looked at 18 app categories and found that the more popular an app, the more data it likely collects.

social media apps

Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger—all owned by the same company, Meta—collect all 32 segments of personal data that Apple’s App Store flags. Less-invasive options include the audio-first Clubhouse social media app. Cisco WebEx Meetings and disappearing-messages app Dust are great alternatives for business and personal use, because neither service collects any data.

If you’re looking for privacy while searching the web, reading email, or streaming video, you should avoid Google’s products. Chrome takes 13 points of data, Gmail collects 19, and YouTube grabs a colossal 24. Instead, use alternatives Brave or Firefox Focus—or a private browsing window—and paid email service Spike, and Popcornflix or Kanopy for streaming video.

video streaming apps

Looking at financial apps? PayPal takes a whopping 26 points of data compared with MoneyGram’s mere eight. Mint also gobbles up 21 points of data, while Mvelopes collects no data at all. Cryptominers, avoid Coinbase and its 18 data points: Choose Crypto Pro instead, which collects only personal identifiers.

Recommended by Our Editors

Food-delivery apps DoorDash and Caviar collect 24 points of data apiece, while apps inluding Postmates and ChowNow collect just 13. Instead of shopping on Amazon, which collects 26 points of data, try Etsy or Poshmark, which gobble up only 12.

Surfshark’s study includes an interactive privacy tool that lets you see the most (and least) data-hungry apps. See where your favorite apps rank, and make the switch to a more privacy-focused alternative.

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