Tech | August 19, 2022 1:40 pm

A New Tool Makes a Great Case For Never Using a Social App’s Built-In Browser

Be careful the next time you click on a link within your favorite platform

Be careful of how you're using your apps.
Gilles Lambert/Unsplash

Spend enough time using your social media app of choice and you’ll likely find yourself making a surprising discovery: somewhere along the way, that app has made its internal browser your default browser. Clicking on the ubiquitous “link in bio” on many an Instagram profile, for instance, won’t necessarily send you to Chrome or Firefox right away.

While there are ways of getting around that — updating your app settings, or re-opening the link in your browser of choice — it’s likely that numerous users of these apps stick to the in-app browser. And if you’ve ever wondered about the wisdom of this, a new website makes an excellent case for avoiding in-app browsers entirely.

As an article at The Verge explains, the website allows users to see what additional JavaScript is running when you use an in-app browser. The site was created by Felix Krause, who’s also behind a recent report focusing on how Meta’s browsers add JavaScript to the sites you visit.

As PCMag’s coverage of the report indicates, Krause and Meta are at odds about what the additional code means, with Krause arguing that it’s about user tracking and Meta replying that it has to do with user privacy.

Krause has also offered a more detailed explanation of his findings, including descriptions of the issue for users who don’t have much of a technological background. He also notes that only one of the apps he looked at that doesn’t give users any option whatsoever to open links in their preferred browser is TikTok.