How Much Data Do Language Apps Use?

For several thousand years, human beings have fought wars against nations and oppressors for one reason: to gain freedom and independence. One question begets, which fundamentally asks the essence of genuine freedom and independence. To answer this question from a philosophical perspective, one can say that freedom is the right to act on one's will and not be enslaved or have someone else's power over you. In the same landscape, privacy and human rights are the most foundational pillars of freedom and independence for which our ancestors have shed blood and sacrificed.

However, we might believe that we have accomplished freedom because humans have reached the pinnacle of modern technology and advanced all science prerequisites. But in reality, we are wrong. In today's time, a new war has risen in which the tyrants are using technology to access our personal information, which can be used against us if required, fundamentally destroying the notion of freedom and independence by violating human rights.

The biggest culprit in this violation of privacy is the social media apps that people worldwide use, which are language apps. The most famous and popular language apps, like Duolingo and Busuu, hide behind the service of teaching foreign languages to people yet, at the same time, utterly violate their privacy. Many enthusiastic people about learning languages trust these apps as their guides and teachers to advance their interest and knowledge of other languages. Still, in return for teaching, these apps stab them in the back by taking and leaking their information without consent.

To uncover the truth, the methodology that was applied included an analysis of 10 famous language teaching apps that were chosen from different articles and featured in Google search engines by searching the keyword "the most popular language learning apps." the name was also taken through the most downloaded apps numerically according to the source AppMagic platform. Furthermore, each app's head of data collection was on the Apple App Store page on September 12, 2023. Around 12 data points categories had a list of 3 dt points from the App Store. The analysis was done according to the data set number and its type.

The analysis found that Duolingo is the most corrupt language app and wholly violates the human rights of an individual's privacy. Duolingo is found to be collecting its user's device ID, purchase history, audio data, photos/videos, phone number, search history, etc.

In the second place, the most corrupt and privacy-violating language app is Busuu, and the third is IHuman. The apps that collect the most minor user data are Mondly, HelloTalk, and EWA. In the list of language apps that collect user data also includes prominent names such as Falou, ELSA, Babbel, and Vocabulary.

Duolingo has leaked 2.68 million users' data by collecting 19 out of 32 data points, about 60% of the available data on the users. Busuu collects 17 data points that are highly concerning, while iHuman collects 12.

EWA collects the most minor data points, 5 out of 32, Hellotalk gathers 7, and Mondly Leaps collects 7. One alarming thing is that Hellotalks tracks its user's exact location, which no other apps do.

The question arises: What do these language app companies do with the information they collect about their users? From the analysis, it was found that these app companies mainly use the data to track their users; not the intention of why tracking is done on its users is still unknown, but one can assume it can only be a disturbing reality. Moreover, these app companies sell the data to a third- party for unknown reasons and to data brokers.

Chart via: Surfshark

Read next: 77% of Consumers Never Check for Data Leaks, New Study Reveals
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