I’m going to go into details about the permissions given to this app by default, however, please don’t ignore this article if you don’t play Words With Friends. Keep in mind that most apps take similar liberties with our digital data and before you use any app at all, please take time to explore the privacy settings and permissions. (In fact, here’s a previous article regarding general app dangers – How Apps Sneakily Steal Your Privacy) This article is geared more to Facebook apps but my point is to start to look at settings of every app you use on every device – especially your smartphones!
Back to Words With Friends: The screenshot below shows the general categories this app gains access to once installed. Pretty extensive, right? When I get something for free, I expect that they’ll be expecting a lot in return. I use a paid version of this app but I was wrong to assume they wouldn’t be using my data anyway. Let’s explore further …
Wow! New Words With Friends “needs access to” a lot of personal data. Opening all the drop down menus provided additional shocking details about the information this app would be extracting from my mobile device.
Device & app history:
I don’t want Words With Friends creator, Zynga, to know what other apps I use. I certainly don’t want them to have access to my browsing history and my bookmarks.
Why would I want Zynga to have access to my personal and private calendar and contact information in my phone? Not only is that not their business, it’s a huge invasion of privacy to my contacts.
I understand how this gives general demographic information for marketing purposes however, I don’t want to share this either.
I don’t mind connecting a photo to my online Words With Friend’s profile but I can’t think of any good reason that I’d want to give Zynga access to my other images, videos, audio or my device’s external storage. Can you?
Wi-Fi connection information:
Call me crazy but why would I want to share the name of my connected Wi-Fi devices? I tend to give my devices and my wi-fi obscure names that are meaningful to me. I don’t want to share that information with Zynga, other apps, strangers or potential cyber criminals!
Device ID & call information:
I don’t completely understand this item but if all I’m doing is playing a quick online board game, why would I want to share all this other information? My answer is I don’t want to.
Again, I don’t fully understand what these read and write permissions mean but nonetheless, with the exception of keeping track of what I do within each Words With Friends match, I see no good reason to allow Zynga to read or write anything beyond that.
After reading all of these permissions, I went back to my current version of Words With Friends privacy settings with the hope that I hadn’t already inadvertently given Zynga access to all of my private information. No such luck! The old version requires less access, but nonetheless, it had assumed many of these similar permissions when I didn’t take time to look over the permissions when I first installed the app. Or to be more correct, when I gave it access to this information simply by using the app.
I’m sad that my Words With Friends games appear to be over unless someone finds a way around all of the associated privacy invasion. If you do, please let me know because I’m going to miss the challenge of playing Words With Friends with my son and my competitive neighbor!
Until next time,… Stay Cyber Safe.
To those of you in the United States who celebrate this week’s holiday ..