social media apps

The Social Media Apps That Are Tracking You the Most: Data Privacy Trends

Did you ever notice that when you visit a site on the web and then you leave that site and go on to other sites how ads for that product or service tend to pop up afterwards? Of course you have. To at least some degree, that’s because of social media apps that are tracking your activities. So, here are the social media apps that are tracking you the most.

According to this article by Atlas VPN (hat tip to Sharon Nelson of the excellent Ride the Lightning blog for the initial coverage), the social media apps with the most trackers are – drum roll please! – YouTube and TikTok!

Trackers allow ad services to follow users around the web to learn about their browsing habits. While first-party trackers are stored by the website or app you are visiting directly, third-party trackers can invade your privacy and serve targeted ads based on your preferences.

With regard to social media apps and tracking, the report shows that:

  • YouTube application has 14 trackers in total, 10 first-party and 4 third-party contacts.
  • TikTok also has 14 app trackers, but 13 out of 14 are third-party network contacts.
  • Twitter and Telegram each have 9 trackers in their iOS applications, with all of Telegram’s trackers being third party trackers.
  • Facebook, Messenger and WhatsApp surprisingly only have 1 tracker each, even less than LinkedIn, which has 4 (2 first-party, 2 third-party)
  • Magazine applications averaged 28 trackers, of which 26 belong to third-party network contacts.
  • iHeart: Radio application made 56 contacts, with 51 being to third-party networks, which is the most among all apps analyzed in the research.

The third-party trackers are worse because they are placed by a website you haven’t even visited. Third parties can embed trackers on websites all over the internet, allowing them to collect massive amounts of data on you and share it with anyone. Scary, huh? That’s what the guy at the top of this site thinks.  😉

You can check out the Atlas VPN and Sharon’s post via the links above for more (sobering) information about social media apps and tracking.

So, what do you think?  Are you concerned about how social media apps are tracking us? Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.


Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer, my partners or my clients. eDiscovery Today is made available solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Today should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.


  1. I think we all need to get off social media–at least if we don’t want them tracking us and serving up ads.

  2. Youtube is just one app, Google is the known to track users in all its apps, be it maps , google search even Gmail. The concept of user privacy is evading and with the evident rise of Meta-verse, the web regulations needs to be re-written to protect its users.

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