We were once limited to the nightly news on a handful of stations. Then came CNN and the advent of the 24-hour news cycle. Yet today, we have more options than ever to not only get the news, but to customize the experience. News apps allow you to get news in areas of interest to you. But one of the drawbacks is that to customize your experience, these apps may collect personal information. What news apps do with your information could compromise your privacy in ways you don’t expect.
The Fine Print
Unfortunately, what you don’t know can compromise your privacy. What’s hidden in the fine print may expose the details of your interests and activities to more people than you might imagine. And while your data is usually used for relatively harmless purposes such as targeted advertising, in the hands of a stalker or cyber-criminal, this information can be used to bring real harm to you personally.
News Apps Try to Identify You, The User
One of the most important aspects of targeted ads is being able to actually target individual users and narrow groups of users. To do so, news apps will collect information about you that identifies you. This allows the news app to build a more detailed profile about your interests that makes advertising more valuable. But how does a news app identify you in particular? One way is by having you log in to use the app. This will reveal information about the news stories and advertisements you interact with while on the app.
The more valuable information for building your profile is to be able to identify the sites you visit after you leave the news app, though. To do this, many news apps collect information about your digital fingerprint that allows them to track your activity after you leave the app.
How Tracking You Produces Revenue
In most news apps, you will see ads presented in a variety of ways. Banners across the top or bottom of the screen, ads that appear as you scroll through a story, or pop up ads that you must click to close. In almost all cases, the ads that you see are targeted specifically to show to users who match a specific profile. Showing the same ads to all users produces less revenue for advertisers. So, advertisers are willing to pay a high premium to information about the interests and activities of users to better target ads.
The Risks of Private Data Collection
You may think your interest in a particular news story, a simple web search, or the amount of time you spent looking at a particular ad reveal very little about you. But advertisers can use this type of information to create highly detailed profiles about you. Everything from your political affiliations, your income, your employment, and your opinions on most issues can be deduced from the information collected.
This information is routinely shared with advertisers. Advertisers often share information they have collected with the aps as well. Taken all together, this creates an incredibly detailed profile of who you are. And that information is shared so broadly that it can be all but impossible to catalogue all the different advertisers who have some level of access to your profile.
While many app makers take a proactive approach to security and maintaining your privacy, not all do. And even if the news app you use are secure. Once that information is shared with an advertiser, your data might be less secure. Data breaches occur on a regular basis and once your information is divulged, it cannot be hidden again.
Protect Your Privacy
There’s no reason to give up on your favorite news apps. But some reasonable precautions can help protect your privacy as well. Rather than connecting your login with your social media, login with email and a strong password. This keeps your social life separate with all the information available there.
Subscribing to a quality VPN service can greatly enhance your privacy. By connecting through an anonymous server, you can help prevent news apps from gaining critical information to build a targeted profile. By preventing news apps from accurately identifying you, your information is safeguarded. A VPN service offers some of the best protection for your privacy you can buy to protect you from privacy risks from news apps or any of the other threats online.