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WhatsApp Vs Signal, Telegram, Facebook Messenger: What Data Does Each App Collect?

Privacy labels on the App Store shows Facebook Messenger as the app collecting the most user data compared to Telegram, Signal, and iMessage.

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WhatsApp Vs Signal, Telegram, Facebook Messenger: What Data Does Each App Collect?

WhatsApp collects data including device ID, coarse location, and contacts, as per Apple’s privacy labels

Highlights
  • WhatsApp seems to collect a large amount of user data
  • Facebook Messenger leads that front, though
  • Facebook criticised Apple of its privacy labels update last month

WhatsApp's new privacy policy has people worried but how much data does it collect compared other messaging apps such as Signal, Telegram, and Facebook Messenger? A lot more, it turns out, as shown by the privacy labels of these messaging apps as shown on Apple's App Store.Both apps owned by Facebook (Messenger and WhatsApp) collect usage data and location details, unlike the other apps. In contrast, Signal seems to be the most private messaging app and doesn't collect any user data, as per the privacy details highlighted on the App Store. Perhaps unsurprisingly given this fact, Facebook earlier criticised Apple's move to display privacy labels.

The details available on the App Store show that Facebook Messenger is the most acquisitive 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.

You can see these details on the App Store yourself if you have an iPhone. Here's a detailed breakdown of all the data that these apps collect.

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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Jagmeet Singh Jagmeet Singh writes about consumer technology for Gadgets 360, out of New Delhi. Jagmeet is a senior reporter for Gadgets 360, and has frequently written about apps, computer security, Internet services, and telecom developments. Jagmeet is available on Twitter at @JagmeetS13 or Email at jagmeets@ndtv.com. Please send in your leads and tips. More
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