No wonder Facebook is fuming over Apple's efforts to increase data-sharing transparency. SurfShark (opens in new tab), a cybersecurity firm, analyzed iOS apps to determine which platforms snatch the most data from its users. Investigators discovered that Facebook's most popular apps, save for WhatsApp, are the most data hungry.
On the plus side, users will breathe a sigh of relief to hear that web browsers aggregate the least amount of information on users — and some internet crawlers don't gather anything at all.
Facebook-owned apps collect the most data
The Facebook app, Messenger and Instagram are the top three most data-hungry iOS platforms, according to SurfShark's study. This is expected; Facebook has been on the receiving end of backlash from privacy advocates who chastise the social media giant for invading users' personal digital space.
Surfshark discovered that Facebook-owned apps track users' contact information, health and fitness data, search history, location and even sensitive information like financial data.
The cybersecurity firm also analyzed iOS apps in 17 categories: Messaging, Social Media, Payments, Shopping, Food Delivery, Streaming, Dating, Flight Booking and Navigation, Personal Finance, Email, Period Tracker, Pregnancy Tracker, Cryptocurrency, Image Editing, Kids, Browsers and Weather.
The Facebook app and Facebook Messenger, unsurprisingly, topped the first two as the most data-hungry. Cisco Webex Meetings is the least data-hungry for the Messaging category while Clubhouse takes that throne for the Social Media column.
Here's a breakdown of SurfShark's findings (the most data-hungry app is on the left and the least data-hungry app is on the right):
As mentioned, SurfShark discovered that web browsers collect the least amount of data from users. However, it's not surprising that out of all the iOS internet crawlers, Google Chrome is the most data hungry. If you're on the hunt for a browser that won't collect anything from you at all, consider the Privacy Web browser app.
The top three app categories that collect the most data are Social Media, Food Delivery and Shopping. Facebook, of course, takes the crown in the first category as the top data hog while Door Dash and Amazon Shopping take the throne for the other two.
If this concerns you, don't worry. SurfShark created an interactive tool that lets iOS users see which app invades users' privacy the least. You can filter iOS apps by category and find the best platform for your security needs.
SurfShark investigators say one way we can curb Big Tech from collecting our data is to charge them for it. "At the very least," SurfShark said, "this would highlight the true value of our data – and make developers think twice before demanding it."