Snooping Social Media

Social media platforms track and steal user information, putting users’ privacy at risk

BeReal, TikTok, and Snapchat are all names that sound familiar. They are all apps that are part of recent trends and have been popular for varying amounts of time. However, what may sound less familiar is that every one of these apps tracks, sells, and listens to your information.

The Digital Journal reveals how BeReal, the 2022 App of The Year, actually tracks and sells your information. Their article goes on to explain how BeReal and apps like it have several privacy issues. 

“There are several privacy risks involved in the case of an app like BeReal. Due to the fact that it pushes users to post content once every day, there will undoubtedly be privacy issues there…one of the top risks is that your location may be shared without your consent. When you share a ‘BeReal’ publicly in the Discovery feed, strangers can see your location clearly,” Mirza Silajdzic, a privacy expert, said.

However, it isn’t just social media that listens to your preferences. Search engines such as Google do as well. To receive personalized ads, Google filters through your previous searches, finds keywords, and sells your information to buyers. 

“It seems like these days, every app or site you use or download knows your information, and there’s not any way to prevent that,” junior Tejal Parajuli said.

If you’re worried about your apps or phone listening to you, the truth is that it’s almost impossible to avoid. Even built-in apps on your phone, like Siri, listen to you. 

As Norton VPN, a security app for your phone,  explains on their website, “You shouldn’t be too concerned about your phone listening to you. You might even appreciate the personalized advertisements that result from it.”

The reason why apps like BeReal or search engines like Google often listen to you is in order to understand your preferences or things you are interested in. However, many people, such as Freshman Nithya Khandavalli, were surprised to learn this information.

“I was a little taken aback when I heard that many of the apps on my phone were tracking me, but then I realized that in the world we live in, that’s pretty common,” Khandavalli said.

While some people have come to accept it, others have decided to try to limit the apps that can listen to them.

“When I heard that Gas App was listening to what I was saying, and when there were rumors about its consequences, I decided to delete it. It wasn’t like I use the app every day, so it didn’t have a huge impact on my daily life when it was gone,” Parajuli said.

Some people decide to be wary of these apps in the first place, not downloading them in general. “I’ve never really been interested in getting apps like Gas App. However, I do have BeReal and TikTok, just because those apps are more appealing to me,” senior Lila Mock said.

Regardless of whether you get apps like TikTok or if you ignore the trend, it can be important to understand the consequences apps like this can have.