Cheetah Mobile and privacy
If you own an Android device, you must have probably heard of/installed/used Cheetah Mobile applications before. If not, you’re lucky you didn’t get the chance to hand out your data for free :)
For those that have used their products and still do, I hope you delete them ASAP after reading this article; you might see this as a PSA (Public Service Announcement), I’m doing you people a favour.
And the main question would resolve to:
Why do people trust Cheetah Mobile in 2018?#
In 2018 it’s pretty safe to assume that almost everyone has Cheetah Mobile apps before, like Clean Master or CM Launcher 3D. Even if you have never heard of them, dozens of other apps and games like TikTok (the new Musical.ly) are at least indirectly connected to, funded or owned by Cheetah Mobile. They’re the 4th largest publisher on Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, right after Google, Facebook and Apple. If you are still using any of their apps, it’s time to stop doing so right now. For reasons why, read below.
A huge network of trash#
First of all, Cheetah Mobile isn’t an Android app company itself, they are an “AI” company and they dream about robots and changing the future.
“But why are they making utility apps in the first place?”, you might be asking. The answer to that is quite simple. They want data and they happen to have found a weak spot, which is the average Android user. For some reason that I don’t understand, a lot of Android users download boosters, launchers, and battery savers without blinking an eye, assuming that it is normal for these kind of apps to request every permission Android offers. I could spend some hours explaining why these so called cleaner/booster apps are bad and you shouldn’t use them, but that’s a topic for another article, which you can find everywere in the web.
Cheetah Mobile sells your data#
“You still haven’t shown any proof that they are selling our data!” Well, their official website should probably be enough proof, right?
Cheetah Data has been there for a while, and this is quite a big deal for your privacy. You have to go ahead and register for a limited, free account to check out what kind of data they actually collect. I’m glad someone else did that for us already, and damn, do they collect a lot! If you are a developer yourself you probably know about Google Analytics (and you already know my stance on Google products and their tracking) and the kind of statistics it provides you with. Imagine this, but for all applications they have, including your competition. These are updated every two days.
Paying users get full analytics and profiles of the users of any app#
The Cheetah Mobile apps not only collect statistics while you’re using them, they also analyze which apps you are using, at what time, and for how long. The fact that all of this data is being sold to the highest bidders makes me suspect that this is just the beginning.
Samsung and Microsoft are using Cheetah Mobile libraries#
You might be wondering what this has to do with this article and you are right. Samsung’s Android software has a storage cleaning tool, which you might consider a nice to have feature at first… until you look at it a little closer.
Clean Master is developed by Cheetah Mobile. The app on the Play Store has over 1,000,000,000 downloads and this number keeps rising every day. For every person that downloads them, Cheetah Mobile gets more and more data from users.
If you ever wanted to install Clean Master on your Samsung Galaxy but didn’t know how to do so, don’t worry, Samsung has a guide on how to install said app.
Now, what does Microsoft have to do with all this? To show you this we’ll need to take a closer look at the Play Store description of CM Launcher 3D to uncover this:
Even if you have never used any of these “utility” apps before, you must’ve downloaded games such as Piano Tiles, created by Cheetah Games or another company funded by CM. Other apps and companies Cheetah Mobile owns you might not have realized yet include TikTok (formerly Musically) and Live.me, a live-streaming service.
At this point it should be clear to you that they do everything in their power to collect data in every field out there, so it would only make sense to also have a browser on the app palette, wouldn’t it? Presenting you “CM Browser”, made to send your juicy browser history and usage data over to your new favorite multimillion-dollar company, ready to be shared with rich buyers.
CM solely makes apps to mine data from their users, and they sell that data. There is basically nothing they are not collecting from your device. If you have one of their apps installed, anyone can go ahead and analyze how you are using your device and what you’re doing with it. You become part of a big data pool. If any of your friends are using Cheetah Mobile software, make sure to tell them about this.
This article is in part inspired from this post by Till Kottmann.
All content is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 unless stated otherwise. (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International).