According to a new report from AtlasVPN, YouTube and TikTok use the most trackers to collect data about their users. Additionally, apps in the magazines, news, and sports categories tend to have the most first-party and third-party trackers.
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Advertising companies and others use trackers to track user activity on the web to build a profile to serve them with advertising. First-party trackers are used by the company you might be visiting, such as YouTube, and third-party trackers are used by other companies authorized by the first party. TikTok had the most third-party trackers, while YouTube had fewer.
According to recent findings from the Atlas VPN team, YouTube and TikTok have the most trackers among social media apps. Additionally, apps in the magazines, news, and sports categories tend to have the most first-party and third-party trackers.
Data is based on searching Genius URLs across 200 iOS apps using the app activity logging feature to see which apps are communicating with different networks. Each application was downloaded and opened only once without registering for the service to understand the starting set of connections.
Before analyzing social media apps, let’s understand why third-party trackers are bad. Third-party trackers are placed by a website that you haven’t even visited. These third parties can embed trackers on websites all over the internet, allowing them to collect massive amounts of data about you and share it with anyone they want.
The YouTube app has 14 trackers in total, 10 first-party contacts and 4 third-party contacts. On the other hand, TikTok app trackers are of more concern as 13 out of 14 are third-party network contacts. As these trackers lead to third-party domains, it is unclear what data is being shared.
Twitter and Telegram each have 9 trackers in their iOS apps. However, Telegram’s 9 contacts lead to third-party domains, while the Twitter app tracks users with 6 third-party contacts and 3 proprietary contacts.
The Facebook and Snapchat apps each have only one third-party tracker. At the same time, Messenger and WhatsApp applications have only one direct contact. On average, social media apps have 6 trackers, of which 4 are third-party and 2 are first-party contacts. Not logging into app services has contributed to fewer trackers on social media apps.
You can read the full report on TikTok and social media app trackers on the AtlasVPN website.
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Last updated February 2, 2022.