What User Data Do Different Messaging Apps Collect?


WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger collect a vast amount of user information and data compared to other popular messaging apps including Signal and Telegram, Apple’s privacy labels update revealed. Both apps owned by Facebook collect usage data and location details which are the cases with other apps. In contrast, Signal comes as the most private messaging app that doesn’t collect any user data, as per the privacy details highlighted on the App Store. Facebook has earlier criticised Apple’s move to display privacy labels.

The details available on the App Store shows that Facebook Messenger leads when it comes to user data collection, followed by WhatsApp. The list of data both apps collect includes users’ purchase history, financial information, location details, contacts, phone number, email address, and usage data, among others.

At a time when people are expressing concerns about WhatsApp’s new privacy policy changes, which you have to accept or your account will be deleted, it’s interesting to note all the data that the app, which has 400 million users in India alone, is collecting.

An image shared by 9to5Mac provides a clear breakup of what all the data WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger collect — in comparison with iMessage, Signal, and Telegram. You can see these details on the App Store yourself if you have an iPhone.

WhatsApp

  • Device ID
  • User ID
  • Advertising Data
  • Purchase History
  • Coarse Location
  • Phone Number
  • Email Address
  • Contacts
  • Product Interaction
  • Crash Data
  • Performance Data
  • Other Diagnostic Data
  • Payment Info
  • Customer Support
  • Product Interaction
  • Other User Content

Facebook Messenger

  • Purchase History
  • Other Financial Info
  • Precise Location
  • Coarse Location
  • Physical Address
  • Email Address
  • Name
  • Phone Number
  • Other User Contact Info
  • Contacts
  • Photos or Videos
  • Gameplay Content
  • Other User Content
  • Search History
  • Browsing History
  • User ID
  • Device ID
  • Product Interaction
  • Advertising Data
  • Other Usage Data
  • Crash Data
  • Performance Data
  • Other Diagnostic Data
  • Other Data Types
  • Browsing History
  • Health
  • Fitness
  • Payment Info
  • Photos or Videos
  • Audio Data
  • Gameplay Content
  • Customer Support
  • Other User Content
  • Search History
  • Sensitive Info
  • iMessage
  • Email address
  • Phone number Search history
  • Device ID

Signal

  • None. (The only personal data Signal stores is your phone number, and it makes no attempt to link that to your identity.)

Telegram

  • Contact Info
  • Contacts
  • User ID

Facebook criticised Apple’s privacy labels in newspaper advertisements shortly after they started appearing on the App Store last month. WhatsApp also separately accused Apple of implementing anti-competitive policies over the recent update. The app also provided some clarification on its user data collection through an FAQ. However, the list shared online suggests the reason for criticism and accusation.

It is important to point out that the privacy labels on the App Store are based on the self-submission made by developers to Apple that is not yet manually checked. But nonetheless, companies including Facebook also provide such details in their lengthy privacy policies as well that aren’t read by a large number of their users.


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