Marco Polo

Marco Polo

Review date: 09/08/2021

Marco Polo is less a video call app and more a video sharing app. There are no real-time calls. Instead, users record and share videos (or texts or audio-only recordings)--called Polos--with people in their contacts. Record a video of you dancing with your dog. Upload it and leave it for your friend or family group. They'll hop on and view it when they have a moment and reply with a video of their own. Call, respond, Marco, Polo. Get it? Marco Polo has been around since 2014. Thanks to pandemic growth, some enthusiastic celebrity users like P!nk, Amy Poehler, and Ice T, and apparently the US state of Utah (which one report said has the app's biggest user base, who knew?), Marco Polo now has over ten million users worldwide.

What could happen if something goes wrong

Marco Polo seems to do an OK job protecting your privacy. It uses encryption in transit and at rest. It does not use stronger end-to-end encryption because they say they want to be able to retrieve those precious memories of yours stored on their servers if you happen to lose your phone. One thing that does worry us a little is how Marco Polo handles the deletion of those precious Polo videos. If you chose to delete your account, remember to delete all your Polos first, as it appears users aren’t able to delete these videos after you delete your account. And any Polos you don’t delete can remain accessible to other users. What's the worst that could happen? Well, we’d hate for that super embarrassing Polo you sent that one drunken night to remain available to dig up even after you delete your Marco Polo account. No one needs that stuff hanging around the internet forever.

Privacy

Can it snoop on me?

Camera

Device: N/A

App: Yes

Microphone

Device: N/A

App: Yes

Tracks Location

Device: N/A

App: Yes

What is required to sign up?

What data does it collect?

How can you control your data?

Marco Polo says they can retain all your data indefinitely, unless you delete your account. If you delete your account, your personal information and any scrapbooks you recorded will be deleted plus you will be removed from any Marco Polo groups. The retention periods and retention methods are not provided. Even after you delete your account, your videos (Polos) will remain accessible to other users. Moreover, you can not delete any videos after deleting the account.

What is the company’s known track record for protecting users’ data?

Average

In the past, Marco Polo sent text message invitations from your phone to your top contacts without explicit permission. These invitations used your nickname from their contact list, thus personalising a message like "Hi bunny! Please download Marco Polo app, so that I can send you a video!"

Can this product be used offline?

Not applicable

User friendly privacy information?

No

The privacy policy is written using overly abstract language, and it seems to hide the app's weaknesses behind legalese clauses.

Links to privacy information

Security

Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards?

Yes

Encryption

Yes

No end-to-end encryption, but encryption at rest and in transit.

Strong password

Not applicable

There is no password requirement in Marco Polo. To sign up, an SMS authentication is used.

Security updates

Yes

Marco Polo is updated weekly, and each update is annotated with what is new.

Manages vulnerabilities

Yes

Vulnerabilities can be reported here https://www.marcopolo.me/vulnerability-policy/

Privacy policy

Yes

Artificial Intelligence

Does the product use AI?

Can’t Determine

Does the AI use your personal data to make decisions about you?

Can’t Determine

Does the company allow users to see how the AI works?

Can’t Determine

Updates

Data Breach of the Week — Marco Polo
Ally
One of the main security concerns is whether the app is doing enough to protect its younger users from online predators.
Someone knows something about this Marco Polo app that we don’t
TechCrunch
There’s a whisper in the venture community we’re hearing that is growing increasingly louder, and it’s about this video walkie-talkie app called Marco Polo.

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