Top Apps Use False Safety Flags In Google Play Store

Leading app makers including Twitter and TikTok are using “false or misleading” safety labels in their Google Play Store listings, according to Firefox maker Mozilla.

Mozilla conducted a study of the safety labels used in the Play Store, which are meant to provide consumers with information on which data apps collect and who they share that data with. The study included the 20 most popular paid apps and the 20 most popular free apps in the Play Store, and compared their safety labels to the apps’ own privacy policies.

The study found almost eight out of ten apps had discrepancies between the information contained in their privacy policies and their safety labels.

Twitter was rated as “poor” in the Mozilla study. “Twitter’s privacy policy says it shares personal data from users’ tweets with advertisers, third-party content and integrations, APIs, and ‘partners’ it says help it operate Twitter’s products and services, but Twitter reports none of these practices on Google’s Data Safety form,” Mozilla’s report states.

It was a similar story with TikTok. The company’s privacy policy “says it may share consumers’ personal data with advertisers and creators based on TikTok’s legitimate interests, without consumers’ prior consent,” but the company again doesn’t report this usage on Google’s Data Safety Form, where it declares “no data shared with third parties”.

TikTok has been approached for comment. Twitter has no communications department to approach for comment anymore.

Google not policing the Play Store

Mozilla criticises Google’s failure to police the safety label declarations. The company “absolves itself of responsibility” by putting the onus on the app makers to verify the accuracy of the information they provide in their safety labels.

“When I see data safety labels stating that apps like Twitter or TikTok don’t share data with third parties it makes me angry because it is completely untrue,” said Jen Caltrider, project lead at Mozilla. “Of course, Twitter and TikTok share data with third parties. Consumers deserve better. Google must do better.”

“Google Play Store’s misleading data safety labels give users a false sense of security,” Caltridge added. “Honest nutrition labels help us eat better. It’s time we have honest data safety labels to help us better protect our privacy.”

In a statement sent to TechFinitive, a Google spokesperson said: “This report conflates company-wide privacy policies that are meant to cover a variety of products and services with individual Data safety labels, which inform users about the data that a specific app collects. The arbitrary grades Mozilla Foundation assigned to apps are not a helpful measure of the safety or accuracy of labels given the flawed methodology and lack of substantiating information.”

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Barry Collins

Barry has 20 years of experience working on national newspapers, websites and magazines. He was editor of PC Pro and is co-editor and co-owner of He has published a number of articles on TechFinitive covering data, innovation and cybersecurity.