Apple vs. Meta: The Illusion of Privacy
I recently saw the buzz around the new Threads app, Meta’s new text, video, and image-sharing app which gained millions of subscribers within a few hours of launch.
The onboarding was so simple that… I started to mindlessly tap “Next” until…
I noticed a weird step They say “How Threads works”, but…
How Thread Works:
It’s almost as if they did not really want me to read “how it works”. In fact, they greyed out tons of links in tiny gray text especially in the “Your Data” Section That’s super suspicious for an “onboarding screen” .Actually… what kind of “data” is Meta collecting here?
So I went back to Apple’s app store and… Scrolled to “Privacy Section” and I tapped on other data.
And….. Its a long page of super creepy stuff.
Is there any measure of data privacy in Threads?
A research by top 10 VPN, Threads collects 45% more individual data points than, for instance, Twitter. However, strangely enough, Threads, unlike Twitter, claims to collect no data that can be used for tracking you across the Web. It must be noted that this is according to Apple’s App Store privacy labels that are self-reported by the app makers and are not verified by Apple.
What’s even crazier is that Meta asks for all of your life’s data while— disguising it under a “How it works” screen. Plus, they conveniently avoid mentioning that once you click that “Join” button—
User decisions are influenced by the way information is presented to them, Framing becomes unethical when it’s used to mislead or conceal the truth.
—they’ll keep your Instagram account for ransom
Considering all of this, how would you rate this screen on a “Transparency scale” from 0 to 5 Yeah, I’d score it 0 or 1.
And to be clear there’s nothing wrong with a bit of data collection. The real problem is the more intrusive or risky an action is, the more transparent they should be about it. And
In fact, if Meta was as transparent as they are intrusive, this screen would look more like this screen
You see, Apple invests billions in billboards and advertising to reassure people that.
Truth is, if Apple cares so much about privacy, why not make that obvious at the top of their App Store listings
In fact, Apple’s Safari Browser already uses this familiar pattern…
Data privacy has been an unaccounted externality for a long time, so tech companies tend to neglect it. But by making a privacy score front and center, users would be less likely to download apps with poor data practices.
That would incentivize developers to respect users’ privacy. Apple could even rank apps with good practices higher in their app store if privacy were really important to them.
Whether you use it or not, be careful about what you share on social media apps like these — it might be gobbled up by Meta and if you choose to delete it, be aware that you may have to nuke your Instagram account as well.