Meitu can transform your pictures into manga-esque shots
Photo fans have been warned to exercise caution over using Meitu, a popular new app that has swept the globe in recent days.
The app, which is free to download on iOS and Android devices, offers users the chance to apply various filters and enhancements to their pictures to create anime-esque images that can be shared with friends and contacts.
However security researchers are now warning users that Meitu might not be as innocent as it seems.
Following the huge amount of success and coverage that Meitu has gained over the past few days, several users carried out an investigation into just how the app operates.
They found that Meitu is sending a large amount of information on its users to external IP addresses in China for the purpose of 'analytics'.
This includes details on the device's model, the version of Android it runs, and information such as MAC and IMEI addresses, all of which could be used to track a smartphone.
Meitu is able to transform absolutely anyone
Users may also have noticed that they are prompted to accept a large number of functions and permissions when downloading and installing Meitu.
Among these are giving the app full network access, changing audio settings, and receiving data from the internet.
Overall, 23 permissions are requested, far more than many apps normally ask, with one Twitter commentor noting that the information is then being sent to several Chinese IP addresses.
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Meitu has told Express.co.uk that it takes its users’ personal data, "very seriously" and that it does not sell on user data in any form.
In a statement, the company said that, "Meitu’s sole purpose for collecting the data is to optimise app performance, its effects and features and to better understand our consumer engagement with in-app advertisements."
It blamed the need for extensive data collection on the fact that it is headquartered in China, meaning that many of the services normally provided by app stores for tracking are blocked. Instead, Meitu employs a combination of third-party and in-house data tracking systems to get around these obstacles and make sure the user data tracked is consistent.
Meitu says that it collects and sends data securely using multilayer encryption to servers equipped with advanced security protection to block external attacks.
This recent WhatsApp scam targeted users with the promise of a free Sainsbury's voucher
The news comes after mobile customers have been warned to beware of a growing number of scams targeting their devices.
Just this week, iOS and Android users were targeted by an SMS scam which warned users that their accounts had been compromised.
This could then be fixed by clicking on a link – but doing so would put customers at risk of having their personal details stolen by criminals.
Elsewhere, criminals have also recently targeted users of popular messaging service WhatsApp using a similar scam.
Last year, WhatsApp users in the UK were also warned about a new scam message that claimed to offer users a free £100 voucher from supermarket firm Sainsbury's.
Worse still, the scam message appeared as if it was forwarded by someone within your contacts – such as a friend or family member.
However the recipient name was actually a fake designed to trick WhatsApp users into trusting the web address for the alleged £100 Sainsbury's voucher.
If you think you have been tricked into clicking on any of these links – Express.co.uk has an in-depth guide of what steps to take next.