If you’ve noticed friends posting heavily-edited selfies of themselves on social networks this week that make them look like hand-drawn anime characters, you’ve probably encountered Meitu.
The Chinese photo-editing app has been blowing up as people give themselves fantastical makeovers. It’s basically this month’s app craze, akin to Draw Something, Bitmoji and face-swapping in the past.
Is there a downside? Wired has been talking to some digital privacy experts, who aren’t so keen on Meitu due to its collection of data including location, Wi-Fi connection information, SIM card data and other personal identifiers.
“They are collecting some very odd data that shouldn’t be looked at necessarily for the application functioning,” said security researcher Greg Linares.
Another researcher, Jonathan Zdziarski, suggested that “It’s mostly par for the course junk. I didn’t see anything overtly evil, but that doesn’t mean there’s not something more serious in there.”
“The thing [that’s noteworthy] is the number of different analytics and ad tracking packages they’ve loaded into the app. I counted at least half a dozen different packages in there. You don’t generally need that many unless you’re selling data.”