Is Bitmoji Safe?

What is Bitmoji?

Bitmoji is a free-to-use app – available for both iOS and Android devices. Though, the free version of the app has limited features, in-app purchases allow you to go premium and access all the features. Bitmoji can be easily accessed via AppStore or PlayStore. Bitmoji allows its users to create and share custom emojis and avatars. After its acquisition by Snapchat, Bitmoji quickly gained popularity not only among teens but adults as well.

The app integrates itself with other chatting apps such as Messenger for Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat and iMessage. Using a device’s keyboard, the app allows its users to create custom emojis and even cartoon version of themselves. You have two options to choose from, either you can create an avatar using Bitsrips or Bitmoji style. Bitsrips style offers detailed customization options and can create true-to-life avatars, on the other hand, Bitmoji is less detailed but preferred for quick creation.

Bitmoji helps a user create not only the facial aesthetics such as avatar’s features, but also allows users to style their avatars as per their fashion preferences or dressing sense. Once users have created their custom avatars, they become accessible via device keyboard, just like built-in emojis, and can be used in emails, texts and online messaging apps.

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Does Bitmoji Require Full Access?

Permissions requested by apps are annoying. You may often wonder why a specific app requires access to your contacts or microphone access. However, there are a few apps that require full access in order to operate. Bitmoji is one of those apps. People are usually least bothered about keyboard apps like Bitmoji – asking full access to the device. Giving access to your device means disclosing all the private information to an app developer. Your contacts, messages, emails, personal information, data, login credentials and bank information, everything becomes accessible for the app.

We are not saying that Bitmoji is a shady app or could steal your data. We are just informing you about the access that is requested by such apps and gladly granted. Keyboard apps like Bitmoji request full access because they need information about its users. Analyzing its user information, keyboard apps like Bitmoji can come up with predictive suggestions of auto-complete and execute auto-correct features. Information accessed by apps help them grow and facilitate user experience.

Bitmoji website explains why the app requires full access to the device. Here is what the Bitmoji developers have to say:

“We ask for Full Access permission so that we can download your custom Bitmoji images from our servers”.

Bitmoji developers also ensure that the app, despite the full device access granted by its users, cannot interpret data that is entered via keyboard. These are their exact words:

“Bitmoji Keyboard can’t read or access anything you type using your iPhone keyboard or any other third party keyboard”.

Data that Bitmoji Collects

Bitmoji does not have a privacy policy of its own. Since it has been acquired by Snapchat, Bitmoji has the same privacy policy as Snapchat. Bitmoji has access to user basic demographic information which represents your name, age, sex and date of birth, followed by your phone number, email and login credentials.

Bitmoji also has access to your service usage information. This kind of information allows an app to record and store the way you interact with an app and use pattern. Needless to say that the app has access to all the content shared and received, contacts details and information stored in device storage. Further, the app also has access to cookies and your device location.

Third party apps like Bitmoji often use the data to enhance user experience. There is nothing wrong with that. User information can be used for profiling which facilitates targeted ads. This is a monetization model often used by apps like Bitmoji where a free app earns by showing its users ads as per their preferences.

How is Bitmoji Insecure?

As explained earlier, Bitmoji requests full access to your device. This is surely going to raise a few alarms for users who take their privacy and security seriously. It does not matter what Bitmoji claims on its website, being a keyboard app requesting full access, Bitmoji technically has access to your keystroke data.

As explained before, such apps use accessed data to create user experience. Therefore, it is more likely for Bitmoji to record and analyze data pertaining to your in-app preferences such as the frequent use of a particular emoji rather than your private information. After all, it is a matter of perspective. A privacy enthusiast would rather not use his phone to carry out financial transactions or carry sensitive information as the device could be lost or stolen easily.

Since Bitmoji has access to your identity, call logs, microphone, camera and device ID, privacy enthusiasts would rather be flabbergasted about a keyboard app requesting access to user ID, microphone and camera than worry about keystroke data. As said before, it is all a matter of perspective. To be honest, if you take your privacy way too seriously, you would wondering if Bitmoji is safe or not using the app in the first place.

Is Bitmoji Worth It?

As explained before, apps that request excessive permissions are least preferred by privacy enthusiasts. There is always a privacy risk associated with using third party keyboard apps like Bitmoji. So, it is a matter of perspective. Whether you want to make texting a fun experience or prefer your privacy intact. We are not judging the integrity of Bitmoji developers or declaring it to be an unsafe app. However, even though the developers successfully protect and not intend to release user information to unauthorized personnel, history tells us that information leaks are inevitable.

Bitmoji has sufficient credibility to its name as it is acquired by Snap Inc. Albeit, Bitmoji does not seem like a shady app, excessive permissions do raise the alarm at times. Usually such concerns are answered by an app’s privacy policy. A dedicated privacy policy is a must as it facilitates users and resolves their privacy concerns. Bitmoji does not have a privacy policy of its own and Snapchat’s policy reveals a very few specifics about the app.