As websites, advertisers, and social networks put increasing effort into tracking your activity both on your computer and on your smartphone’s apps and browser, it seems like a good idea to be more conscious of how private your mobile activities really are.
Among a growing number of privacy and security focused apps, there are tools that can help keep your mobile browsing private, keep you informed of the implications of the privacy policies that you agree to, or protect the data on your phone in the event that you lose it or it ends up in the wrong hands. Other apps can enable you to send secure and private messages, keep your passwords and financial information safe, or secure the photos and videos you keep on your device.
Still others are anonymous sharing apps that aren’t exactly about privacy, but let you post your thoughts publicly without connecting them to your social media profiles. As Vox’s Alex Abad-Santos recently reported, the growing popularity of “stealth sharing” apps like Secret and Whisper could, on the surface, seem to demonstrate that we’re learning from constant admonitions to refrain from sharing every detail of our lives on social networks like Facebook or Twitter.
We could be choosing not to post every thought and make every comment that we’d like to, whether for fear of future repercussions or out of caution brought on by the realization that nothing we share online is ever truly private. But in reality, these apps are less about privacy and more about anonymity — about finding a way to publicly share a thought without having the consequences to answer to (i.e., without having the thought, admission, gossip, or rant associated with their name and the curated online persona that each of us projects with the content we choose to post on social networks).
There are apps that are built specifically to protect your privacy and keep your personal information from ending up in the wrong hands. There are also apps that build that functionality into an app with another use, providing more privacy minded versions of the tools and utilities that you use on a daily basis. Then there are apps that use anonymity to enable you to say and do things that you probably wouldn’t normally say or do if it weren’t for the excitement of sharing and connecting anonymously. The following list divides 20 apps among those three categories so that you can find exactly what you’re looking for to keep your browsing, activities, and messaging private — or at least anonymous.