Review date: June 17, 2022
What could happen if something goes wrong?
Uhg...Calm, why oh why must you ruin our zen meditation vibe with stressful privacy practices? You know what's rather stressful? When a company says, "Calm uses your data to personalize your online experience and the advertisements you see on other platforms based on your preferences, interests, and browsing behavior." OK, so, there are certainly more stressful things in life. But still, what if we just want to meditate in peace without all our data being used to find ways to sell us more stuff or keep us on the app longer? Pardon us as we go take another deep breath.
Calm says they don't sell your personal information (yay!). Sadly, they say they can use it -- and other things like your actions, preferences, interests. machine learning, and browsing behavior -- to target you with ads and personalizations and the like. They also say they "may obtain information about you from publicly available sources, marketing and advertising partners, consumer research platforms, and/or business contact databases." Potentially gathering even more data on you from data brokers and advertising companies, nope, these are not calming privacy practices at all. Then there's this (unfortunately) common practice where they say they "also share aggregated or other information not subject to obligations under the data protection laws of your jurisdiction with third parties." Here's where we have to remind you that it's been found to be relatively easy to de-anonymize such data, data they say they can share without restriction.
What's the worst that could happen? Well, could Calm get to know all about your meditation practices, your mood, your gender, your location, and more. Then use or share that information to target you with ads about things, like a wine company thinking you're ripe for targeting with wine ads when you're using the app a lot because that might mean you're stressed out. But you're a recovering alcoholic and the wine ads add to your stress. It's just one potential scenario of how targeted ads based on on your behavior and identifiers on the app could go wrong. Not something any of us need when we just want to meditate in peace, dang it!
Tips to protect yourself
- Do NOT use your Facebook account to login.
- Chose a strong password.
Can it snoop on me?
What can be used to sign up?
Facebook and Google registration is available
What data does the company collect?
Name, email, street address, location
Answers to questions about how you feel
How does the company use this data?
How can you control your data?
What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?
No known privacy or security incidents discovered in the last 3 years.
Child Privacy Information
Can this product be used offline?
Users can download and save meditations for offline use
User-friendly privacy information?
Links to privacy information
Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards?
One vulnerability disclosed at openbugbounty still remains unpatched.
Calm uses AI to increase engagement, personalize user experience, suggest content. "Calm's user data is directly fed into the third-party machine learning system, including all purchase and behavioural data,"
Is this AI untrustworthy?
What kind of decisions does the AI make about you or for you?
How to convert new users, engage existing users, retain the users they have
Is the company transparent about how the AI works?
Does the user have control over the AI features?
The Best Meditation AppsWirecutter
Privacy Evaluation for CalmCommon Sense Privacy Program
Choosing a mindfulness appMIT Medical
Headspace vs. Calm: How Do These Meditation Apps Compare?Healthline
The App That Monetized Doing NothingThe Atlantic
How Calm is using machine learning to keep us all mellowDiginomica
Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence in the Meditation IndustryStormotion
How to Create a Mental Health App to Track Anxiety and Depressionaimprosoft
Global Mental Health Apps Market Size, Share & Industry Trends Analysis Report By Application, By Platform Type, By Regional Outlook and Forecast, 2021 - 2027Yahoo! finance
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