That’s because they can collect tons of information, like your age, religion or biometrics. We recommend casting an analytical eye over an app’s “About” section before downloading. Otherwise, you might agree to give away private data. Want to protect yourself better? Tap or click here for a simple way to spot privacy gotchas. A recent study revealed the countless ways apps can spy on you; for example, some can find your salary, location and sexual identity.

Some quick background

Depending on the app you download, you could give away your most precious secrets. Get this: 52% of apps give your data away to other parties. Tap or click here for a list of 2021’s biggest offenders when it comes to private data sharing. For example, you could give away some of these data points by downloading certain apps:

Age and birthdayEmail addressLocationSexual identityReligionSalaryBiometrics

Biometrics is a pretty broad category. In this case, we’re referring to image recognition of your face. However, other apps can recognize objects in a photo, as well. For instance, a recent study from Clario revealed that Uber, Airbnb, Facebook, Tinder, Grindr and TikTok all have image recognition features. Clario is a cybersecurity company from the United Arab Emirates. Its researchers analyzed the world’s most popular apps and what types of data these apps collected and stored in 2021. 

They pinpointed the apps that collect the most private data

Get this: According to Clario’s research, social networking, dating and transportation apps led the way in data collection. Facebook, Tinder, Grindr, Uber and Instagram access the most data categories. There were also a few surprising tidbits of information. For example, Facebook was the only app in the study to collect racial data. Also, Facebook, TikTok and eBay can recognize images in the backgrounds of any pictures you upload. Oh, and Spotify, Netflix, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, Messenger, and Zoom can collect voice recognition data. We’ve got a helpful tip if you want to stop your phone from tracking you. Tap or click here to turn off these eight hidden maps and trackers ASAP.  Here’s Clario’s guide to the different types of data apps can collect, compiled into this chart by National Geographic.

Of course, much of this depends on the permissions you allow for each app. Facebook, for example, lets you take back your privacy in a lot of ways. You just have to spend some time tweaking your settings to suit your preferences. Here’s the main takeaway: If you don’t do your due diligence and restrict apps from collecting certain data points, you could be giving away private information. Before you download an app, read its description thoroughly to see the types of data it wants to access. Then, in Settings, make a few adjustments to protect your privacy.

Follow these guides to protect your privacy

How to change privacy settings on Instagram  Change these 10 Facebook security settings to improve privacy Your apps are watching everywhere you go unless you change this setting

Want to learn more about how data collection works?

As you can tell, data collection is pretty sophisticated. Apps collect a treasure trove of data on you, and some of their methods are easy to miss. Kim’s got you covered if you want to learn how apps find out so much about you. She called a surveillance expert for her podcast, Kim Komando Explains. Give this episode a listen to discover how the government and companies buy your data.