Hoaxes & Rumors

Rumor: Talking Angela App Privacy Concerns

Rumor: Talking Angela App Privacy Concerns
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A rumor states that the Talking Angela app spies on children by asks personal questions. Today we’ll take a look at this rumor a little more closely.

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It’s not true.

Aside from the ALL CAPS rumor, rife with grammatical errors, there is no corroborating evidence or news report that any of the accusations are true. First, however, let’s take a look at the rumor itself.

WARNING FOR TO ALL PARENTS WITH CHILDREN THAT HAVE ANY ELECTRONIC DEVICES , EX : IPOD,TABLETS ETC …. THERE IS A SITE CALLED TALKING ANGELA , THIS SITE ASKS KIDS QUESTIONS LIKE : THERE NAMES , WHERE THEY GO TO SCHOOL AND ALSO TAKE PICTURES OF THEIR FACES BY PUSHING A HEART ON THE BOTTOM LEFT CORNER WITHOUT ANY NOTICES . PLEASE CHECK YOUR CHILDREN’S IPODS AND ALL TO MAKE SURE THEY DO NOT HAVE THIS APP !!! PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE ON TO YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY MEMBERS THAT HAVE KIDS !!!!

Note that the rumor describes Talking Angela as a “site” when it is really an app. The description of the Talking Angela app on the Google Play marketplace reads:

Join Talking Angela in Paris, the city of love and style! Wow her and treat her like a princess because let’s face it, she IS a princess.

Chat with her, buy her presents and choose her wardrobe. You can even smile at her or show her your tongue (but that’s no way to treat a lady)!

She is not alone in the city though, you may see a familiar face pop up here and there but in a completely different role!

Outfit7

The Talking Angela app was created by Outfit7, which has released several popular apps for iOS and Android devices since being founded in 2009. Their privacy policy states that they collect limited data from their apps such as IP address, zip code, language, country code, time zone, and other technical data.

There are several other “talking” apps by Outfit7 with a similar design that have not generated the same warnings as Talking Angela. Talking Gina the Giraffe, for example, was downloaded over one million times in just four days.

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Developer Response

We reached out to the developer and received a very prompt reply, which in part read:

Thank you for your concern. This is a well-known hoax that originated on Facebook. It is definitely NOT TRUE!

The description clearly informs the user that one of the core functionalities of the app is chat, which requires two-way communication, where Angela (a chat bot, not a real person) answers with text and voice in English and talks to the user about a variety of subjects.

The data collected by the app from the user is not shared with anyone and is actually sent to Outfit7 only in the form of an anonymized data log (no names, no numbers, no personal data). This fact is clearly disclosed within the description of the app. The detailed privacy policy is available here:
http://outfit7.com/privacy-policy/.

The screenshots within the description clearly show that the app enables the user to take a picture of himself and share those pictures to social media services like Facebook or Twitter. This is only done if the user
wants to do it and the photos are not sent anywhere else.

*P.S. Below is the relevant excerpt of our Privacy Policy.*

Collection of Data Log files
Application might automatically send anonymized and obfuscated data log files to us that contain detailed data on your usage of the Application (e.g. data log files containing chat history, where (i) such history cannot be attributed to any individual person; and (ii) any personal details (e.g. personal names, addresses, numbers, places, etc.) are obfuscated / deleted). Such data log files are used solely for the purpose of analysis, development and improvement of individual functions within the Application with the aim to make the Application more appealing to users. Such data log files do not enable us to identify any individuals directly. Any such collection of data log files shall be clearly disclosed within the description of the Application on the market and an implied but informed consent shall be deemed to be given to us by downloading and using the Application.

2014

The first round of Talking Angela rumors circulated in 2013, but it has resurfaced again in early 2014. Despite the misguided dire warning above, as of February 2014 Talking Angela has a 4.5 rating out of 5 stars on the Google Play app store, based on over 200,000 reviews.

See our full recap of the 2014 resurgence of the Talking Angela hoax here.

Bottom Line

Talking Angela does not spy on those who use it. There is nothing about the Talking Angela app that sets it apart from the countless other apps on the market.

Updated February 13, 2014

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