MoviePass Data Sharing: A Closer Look

Rumors have circulated this week that breakout app/service MoviePass may be headed for rougher waters. As MoviePass has rapidly risen in popularity over the past approximate year, insiders have tried to piece together how its business model — which lets users see up to one film a day for a monthly subscription fee of just under $10 — could begin to turn a profit.

Recent measures have suggested the app could be headed in this direction. In an attempt to quell user misuse, MoviePass made waves by terminating a slew of accounts they deemed violated their terms of service — though many customers with abruptly cancelled memberships disputed those claims. To the same end, the company introduced a new test measure in April requiring some users to upload a photograph of their ticket stub to prove proper practices. While indicative of efforts to curb spending violations, it’s unclear if these changes can affect the company’s bottom line.

One potential area for major profit for the app, however, has raised red flags for users concerned about protecting their personal information: data collection. The practice appears to have been a transparent part of the MoviePass process since its inception. But after the CEO of the company made startling comments about tracking users’ locations on their way to and home from the movies, security concerns surrounding the app increased.

[Apple is now cracking down on third-party apps that ask for your location data. Read more here.]

The company later told TechCrunch that MoviePass only accesses location when users choose theaters and check in at films, but also owned up to using location-based marketing” to improve the app. Understandably, some potentially interested in the app continue to hold concerns about its safety. MoviePass removed “unused location capabilities” from its iOS app in March.

The app’s privacy policy outlines that it collects personal user information and uses it to tailor the experience in ways such as suggesting titles. They also disclose that they  “provide analysis of our Users in the aggregate to prospective partners, advertisers and other third parties.” The app also does access aforementioned location information when users choose theaters and check in.

Is It Worth It?

In essence, if you’re going to use MoviePass, be aware that your data is collected, and shared with partners as impersonal, aggregated statistical data. The company is open about their goals to develop a fuller movie-going experience with deals at nearby eateries, suggesting they would try to use location information to inform future offerings.

For MoviePass users who don’t mind the company’s seemingly fluctuating data policies, there unfortunately aren’t too many options to bolster security of your existing account — and especially not from the app itself. As we suggest with any other platform, make sure to use a unique password you use for no other accounts.

With the case of MoviePass, the company is upfront in their own statements about their intent to use data to develop the app and further customize the moviegoing experience. If you don’t want to deal with that, it’s best to keep buying tickets as you always did before.

There’s also a chance all of this discussion could be for naught, as many skeptics believe the company’s model won’t allow it to last for much longer, though MoviePass owner Ted Farnsworth rebuked those thoughts in Variety recently. The company is now restricting users from seeing the same movie more than once, as well.

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