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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A new study says Facebook and dating apps collect the most personal information about users, though a wide range of apps are collecting more data than one would expect.

Why it matters: It's not always intuitive which apps are grabbing data. And even when a site or app doesn't explicitly collect a piece of information, it can still infer that information from other data it does collect.

By the numbers: The study, conducted by London-based cybersecurity firm Clario, found that Facebook collects more than 70% of all the information it can legally collect. Second on the list is Facebook's Instagram app, which collects more than 58% of all available data — including info like hobbies, height, weight and sexual orientation.

  • The next most grabby services were dating apps Tinder and Grindr, with Tinder collecting 56% of such info, including the details you'd expect a dating site to know, but also stuff you might not think of, such as whether you own a pet.
  • Retail sites, even Amazon, explicitly collected less info than many other apps. But of course, they get lots of data from what you browse and buy — information they can use to infer all kinds of other data.

Between the lines: Some data makes sense when collected by one app, but less so for other types of programs. For example, it’s not surprising that exercise companies collect information on a person’s weight — but Instagram does, too.

What they’re saying: “It’s no secret that companies trade in their users’ data,” Clario CIO Alex Maklakov said in a statement.

  • “We’re all guilty of accepting the terms and conditions without perhaps reading them as closely as we should. But we want everyone to know what information apps are taking from and storing on their customers so that people can feel in control online.”

Methodology: Clario said it looked at 48 popular apps across various sectors and ascertains which permissions they asked consumers for in their terms and conditions and privacy agreements.

  • Clario then ranked the companies based on 34 different data points.

Yes, but: Terms of service reserve the right to collect data, but users don’t always provide it and companies don’t always collect everything they say they might.

Go deeper

Nov 19, 2020 - Technology

Facebook removed 265,000 pieces of content on voter interference

Photo Illustration by Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Facebook says it removed more than 265,000 pieces of content from Facebook and Instagram in the U.S. for violating its content policies on voter interference leading up to the election.

Why it matters: The company was much more proactive this election cycle than last in taking down and labeling content attempting to disrupt the election.

What COVID-19 vaccine trials still need to do

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

COVID-19 vaccines are being developed at record speed, but some experts fear the accelerated regulatory process could interfere with ongoing research about the vaccines.

Why it matters: Even after the first COVID-19 vaccines are deployed, scientific questions will remain about how they are working and how to improve them.

2 hours ago - Podcasts

Faces of COVID creator on telling the stories of those we've lost

America yesterday lost 2,762 people to COVID-19, per the CDC, bringing the total pandemic toll to 272,525. That's more than the population of Des Moines, Iowa. Or Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Or Toledo, Ohio.

Axios Re:Cap speaks with Alex Goldstein, creator of the @FacesofCOVID Twitter account, about sharing the stories behind the statistics.