Right before the last year’s holiday season began, PayPal acquired widely-used discount shopping browser extension and app Honey for $4 billion. A few weeks later, Amazon customers received a warning about using the Honey App calling it malware that collects customer shopper data. This warning perplexed Amazon’s coverage, not just because Honey has been used on Amazon and other e-commerce sites since 2012, but because Honey’s policy clearly states that this is the app’s use.
Amazon’s customers then began to question the warning’s intention pointing towards the rivalry between Amazon and PayPal. It’s a known fact that discount extensions and apps charge retailers like Amazon a percentage from the sales made from the coupons the extension finds. As a competitor and a giant corporation, calling Honey a security risk would have the power to cast doubt on the legitimacy of a third-party tool that has been used for almost a decade, which would have an impact on PayPal’s revenue.
What is the Honey Browser Extension?
Starting from an idea for a tool to find all available coupon codes and deals for pizza, the browser extension’s creator, Ryan Hudson, developed the extension to do just that for all online purchases. Since its creation, Honey has been downloaded over ten million times and used regularly by many to save a dollar or two online.
It works by adding itself to major online vendor websites including Amazon, Nordstrom, Kohls, Sephora, Papa John’s, and Bloomingdale’s. While shopping, Honey marks a product with a stylized “h” icon identifying a worthwhile deal. It also has an option to get a notification right when there’s a price drop for a particular item the user would like, all the while still scouring the web for any other possible discounts and notifies the user when the chance of finding any is low.
Is Using Honey a Security Risk?
The simple answer to Honey extension as a security risk is: not really. Similar tools to Honey all work the same way and users must agree to the company’s Privacy and Security policy when they press download. A spokesperson from Honey responded to Amazon’s warning message by ensuring users that the company does not collect or sell personally identifiable information, but only collects data to use in ways that benefits users.
Is Honey a Safe Extension?
If you regularly use third-party discount and online shopping tools like Honey and haven’t found any problems, then yes, Honey is a safe extension to use. The core issue that Amazon’s security warning tries to raise is the scraping of user data to sell to the highest bidder and controlling the ads you see online.
The question to ask yourself is, “does this tool’s benefits outweigh its negatives, if any?” The practice of tracking shopping habits is nothing new and people don’t take a second thought of clicking “agree” to use shopping apps. At the end of the day, it’s all about personalizing the shopping experience for each individual. These apps suggest what you like based on your browser activity and if it makes your life easier and better, then it’s doing its job!