Hallow is a Catholic prayer and meditation app launched at the end of 2018. A $60 per year subscription (or $8.99 per month) gives users access to over 500 prayers, 3,500+ meditations, sleep Bible stories, music, sermons, and more. At the end of 2021, Hallow announced investor funding of over $50 million dollars from some big names in Silicon Valley venture capital, including Peter Thiel, who recently left Facebook/Meta's board to become more involved in politics, supporting candidates who align with Donald Trump's agenda. All in all, Hallow's privacy practices seem to be the best of the five pray apps we reviewed, although they do use users' data for marketing purposes. Hallow seems to particularly be fond of advertising on Facebook.
With prayer apps such a growing phenomenon, when Hallow founder Alex Jones was asked about their biggest competition in this space he responded, "in all honesty, if folks are ending up in heaven, we don't really care how they get there." Here's hoping an app can help get you to heaven.
What could happen if something goes wrong?
Credit where credit is due -- of the 32 app makers we emailed with our privacy questions when we began our research into mental health and prayer apps, Hallow is the only one who replied to us and quickly answered all our questions. Good work Hallow, we appreciate you!
So, how does Hallow's privacy practices look? They say they collect personal information, including name, email, phone number, gender (inferred based on your name), and IP address, as well as things like app usage data, prayer minutes, and the text of personal journal entries. Some of this personal data (not private sensitive personal data like your journal entries) they say they can use for targeted interest-based and behavioral advertising, which we don't love. And they do say they can share data with a number of third parties, including advertising and marketing partners which, again, we don't love.
When we first published our review of Hallow, we found they allowed the use of a relatively weak password. We were able to login with the password "111111". Since publishing our review, Hallow has updated their password requirement to require users to login with a strong password. This removed our *Privacy Not Included warning label. We appreciate Hallow taking this step to better secure their app. Hallow also says they will be adding text-message verification code sign up soon too, which is great, as we like two-factor authentication here at *Privacy Not Included.
What's the worst that could happen. Well, you could download and use Hallow and before you know it, you and all your friends and family now see targeted Hallow ads everywhere you go. Soon the guilt sets in that you're not using your Hallow prayer app enough because life got busy. Now you feel like you need to go ask your priest for forgiveness. Three Hail Mary's later and you're all good. Here's hoping that doesn't happen...or that really is the worst thing that happens.
Tips to protect yourself
Do not provide consent for sharing personal data with third parties, whenever possible.
Ensure you have a strong password! The app will not prompt you to do so.
What can be used to sign up?
Apple or Google
What data does the company collect?
Name, email, phone number
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?
A user is able to download audio files to listen offline.
User-friendly privacy information?
Links to privacy information
Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards?
All data is encrypted both in transit and at rest utilizing industry standard (e.g. AES-256). Additionally any private sensitive personal data such as journal entries are further encrypted in such a way that not even anyone at Hallow is able to access, only the user.
Since we first published our review of Hallow where we found we could use the weak password '11111111', Hallow has updated their password requirements and now should require a strong password to login to the app.
Hallow, a religious app for Catholics, talks the talk as religious platforms draw investor attentionTechCrunch
Hallow Earns iKeepSafe COPPA Safe HarboriKeepSafe
Nothing Sacred: These Apps Reserve The Right To Sell Your PrayersBuzzFeed News
A Catholic app raised $52 million. But praying with your smartphone has its limits.America: The Jesuit Review
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