Opinion: Are tools like Grammarly really safe to use?

When I first saw Grammarly appear, I thought "what a great idea".

I signed up for an account and started using it, and really liked what it did for my writing. It seemed to work well, although it got seriously messed up sometimes. It really didn't like it when I had a bunch of code on the screen. Overall though, I liked it.

But then one of my security-focused friends asked me:

Do you really want a browser extension that takes everything that you type and sends it to their servers for review? 

And when I stopped and thought about it, that's really the last thing that makes sense to me from a security point of view. The problem is that the browser has no idea about what's OK to send to the extension and what it shouldn't.

Who knows what they do with all the data that's sent to them?

I read their privacy policy and there are a lot of gray areas in there. But the bigger problem is that there's a bunch of data that I just don't want sent in the first place.

Now I could use the icon in the browser toolbar and keep turning it on and off but that's not going to happen because I'll forget to do it when I should.

I think what I'd like to see is just an option where I could highlight a chunk of text, right-click it, and say "Analyze at Grammarly". I could be OK with that.

Would love to hear what you all think. Comment here or ping me offline.

3 thoughts on “Opinion: Are tools like Grammarly really safe to use?”

  1. I went to install their extension a while back and only got half way through the privacy policy before noping out of there.

    It's a useful tool, but not worth the cost of admission.

  2. I downloaded the Grammarly app to the desktop, but disabled the plugin.

    When I use the desktop app it's deliberate, and only when I'm writing something longer. I expect they'll send my words to their servers, but it's always something I intend to publish publicly anyway.

    But reading every little comment on every social network or blog or whatever is just too creepy. I don't think they'll discover much of interest about me, but who knows. The performance penalty is a bit much as well.

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