What do messaging apps know about you?

Keeping in touch with friends and family anywhere in the world has become incredibly easy. We are spoilt for choices when it comes to messaging apps. WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Signal are just some of the options out there that allow people to communicate with each other regardless of the device they have. All you need is Wi-Fi or mobile data, and you can text, video or voice chat for as long as you want. While most of these apps are free to use, many still come at a price. Popular social media and messaging platforms take your private conversations and turn that information into a profit. Learning about what data messaging apps take from you is an essential step towards controlling your personal information. As conversational marketing rises in popularity, businesses looking to engage with consumers and form genuine connections have started communicating via messaging apps.

According to the latest data, as of 2022, WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app in the world, with two billion monthly active users. The chat app’s user base has been growing quickly and consistently over the years with a large majority of users located in India. This is followed by Brazil, Indonesia and the United States with Russian making up almost 84 million active users even with a ban on Meta’s social media platforms.

After WhatsApp, the second-most used messaging app is WeChat, more commonly known as Weixin in China. It has 1.3 billion active users globally, about two-thirds of WhatsApp’s. WeChat users are predominantly located in China with an increasing number of international businesses starting to sign up for the app. Due to the fact that Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp are hard to access in China, which makes WeChat a much more efficient way to reach the massive Chinese market.

The third-most popular messaging app is Facebook Messenger with 988 million users.

Coming in fourth, the QQ messaging app has 574 million users. Both WeChat and QQ are owned by Chinese tech firm Tencent, referred to as “China’s Facebook”.

Fifth on the list of the top messaging apps worldwide is Snapchat, with 557 million users.

And last but not the least, Telegram is the sixth-most popular messaging app, with 550 million users. The cloud-based chat app has seen its user base grow steadily in recent years. Telegram saw an influx of 70 million new users in October 2021, on the day Facebook suffered an outage that affected both Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
It has become impossible to live without messaging apps, from keeping in touch to shopping and business needs let’s take a look at what data each messaging app collects. Straight off the bat, the two Meta products – WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger collect the most data as compared to Apple’s iMessage and considerably more private Signal and Telegram.

WhatsApp Data collected by app: Phone Number, Email Address, Contacts, Coarse Location, Device ID, User ID, Advertising Data, Purchase History, Product Interaction, Payment Info, Crash Data, Performance Data, Other Diagnostic Data, Customer Support, Product Interaction, Other User, Content, Metadata.

Facebook Messenger Data collected by app: 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, Third-Party Advertising, Purchase History, Financial Info, Product Interaction, Advertising Data, Other Usage Data, Crash Data, Performance Data, Other Diagnostic Data, Other Data Types, Developer’s, Advertising or Marketing, Health, Fitness, Payment Info, Sensitive Info, Product Personalization, Credit Info, Other Financial Info, Emails or Text Messages.

iMessage Data collected by app: Email Address, Phone Number, Search History, Device ID.

Telegram Data collected by app: Name, Phone Number, Contacts, User ID

Signal Data collected by app: None.
You need to sign up on Signal using your mobile phone number for registration, but the app does not link your phone number to your identity.

Being rightfully concerned with how information is stored and handled by the companies who manage it, has become a growing concern. Armed with the knowledge above you can take a look and decide if it is worth using that messaging app or shift to another, less intrusive one.

Blog by NG