SYDNEY: Most Australians don’t know how smartphone apps collect or use their personal data, according to a new survey by Roy Morgan Research, despite them claiming to be concerned about data consent issues.

The study of 967 respondents looked at how often people read and accepted the Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions when engaging online with websites and apps for social networks such as Facebook, Google, Apple, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat as well as online shopping sites, financial sites, medical and health services sites, online news and newspaper sites and Government sites.

With scandals erupting around the sharing of social media data with third parties over recent months, some of the world’s largest social media networks – including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – all have some work to do to better educate users on how their data is used.

The research notes that 90% of Australians are either “not sure” or only “somewhat understand” how their data is used or shared by a number of popular apps. Apple app users in particular are most in the dark – a huge 94.6% of those using Apple apps don’t fully understand how Apple uses or shares their personal data, the highest recorded in the survey.

“Despite the concerns raised about the potential misuse of personal data whether financial, medical, location data, purchase/transaction data, browsing histories, political preferences, sexual orientation, phone contacts, personal photos or other personally identifiable information, only a tiny minority of Australians (between 5% and 10%) believe they ‘fully understand’ how companies such as Apple, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Google ‘use and/or share their personal data’,” said Roy Morgan CEO, Michele Levine, in comments on the study.

The data indicates that almost all Australians lack knowledge of how different social media networks use their app data: with 94.3% of Twitter users, 94% of Instagram users, 93.7% of Snapchat users, 92.8% of Facebook Messenger users, 91.9% of Google users and 90.9% of Facebook users saying they are “not sure” or somewhat understand how their app data is being used by the companies.

Sourced from Roy Morgan; additional content by WARC staff