What the Tech: Free app problems

Local News

Free is seldom better. Often free is not free at all. You’ve heard that saying in the tech world if it’s free, it’s your information being sold.

Be honest, we’ve all downloaded free apps for our smartphones. Game apps, photo filters, meme generators are most popular these days. We’ve even gotten used to the idea of dealing with pop-up ads in between games or limited usability without paying for the premium versions.

Many of those free apps are collecting your data and information and selling it to 3rd party companies.

What data are these free apps collecting? It’s different for different apps but it is quite common for free apps to collect names, email addresses, IP addresses, phone numbers, contacts, and location. Some apps may even track your location when you’re not using them.

Earlier this year Google banned two dozen apps that contained malware. They were removed from the Google Play Store but not before they were downloaded over 300 million times. Apple has banned apps for collecting data without permission.

One of the biggest problems or mistakes is that we download an app that someone told us about and use it for a few minutes or days, then we forget about it. If the app is still on your phone it is probably still collecting and sharing that data.

While you’re home in the time of Corona, it’s a good idea to take a few minutes to review the apps you have installed on your phone and delete the ones you no longer use. It’s like going through your closet and getting rid of clothes you haven’t worn in a few years. After all, you can delete the app and install it again if you ever need it.

While you’re at it, go to your Facebook account settings and look for “apps and websites”. You’ll see a list (maybe a long one) of all the apps and websites you’ve signed up for using your Facebook login information. Those apps and websites have access to your Facebook information even if you delete the app from your phone. Look through them and revoke their permission to see your Facebook info.

It’s a good project that should only take a few minutes

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