Tenor: Safe to Use?

Here’s everything about Tenor being safe to use:

For the most part, Tenor is a safe app to use. 

It is not involved with any known malicious software or practices. 

It is owned by Google and follows Google safety and privacy rules. 

Tenor potentially will generate and share user statistics, but it will not put you in any direct, measurable danger when you use it.

So if you want to learn all about how safe it is to use Tenor, then this article is for you.

Let’s get right to it!

Tenor: Safe to Use? (Everything to Know)

What Is Tenor?

Tenor is often called a GIF (those repeating short clips—see GIPHY) keyboard.

Happy dancing bird.

It’s available on Android devices and Mac computers. 

It is not currently available on iOS.

While it’s called an app keyboard, that’s not quite accurate. 

Tenor is really a GIF search engine and database that makes it easy to find a large number of GIFs that can then be sent to other users. 

It’s designed to work in tandem with your keyboard.

In that way, Tenor enhances the experience.

It’s also worth noting that you can send Tenor GIFs to recipients even if they don’t have the app installed. 

Tenor is really designed for your experience rather than for providing two-way communication resources. 

It’s simple in this respect, and that has a lot to do with how it impacts your digital safety and security.

Is Tenor Safe? (5 Points)

When it comes to digital safety, there are a number of concerns that come up with any app or resource. 

Tenor is no exception. 

Does it host malware? 

Can it crash your device? 

Is it going to steal your credit card or sell your data? 

Will you see horrific things with the app that you don’t want to see? 

Is it safe for kids?

There are plenty of topics that have to be covered, and Tenor ultimately gets a mixed score across the board. 

What you’ll see as we go through each concern is that Tenor is pretty good in the areas that present the most danger. 

It leaves things to be desired in other areas, and you will ultimately have to decide for yourself which risks are tolerable and which aren’t.

#1 It’s Not a Scam

Let’s start with the simplest analysis

Tenor is not a scam. 

It’s not a fake app or website that is just trying to steal money or data. 

It’s vetted by the Google Play Store and Mac App Store.

It’s also vetted by NordVPN.

You can probably find additional authorities that are willing to vouch for the app.

Additionally, you can look at user reviews. 

In terms of safety, they’re quite positive. 

There are no known or documented cases of Tenor participating in malicious or scam-like activity.

It gets full marks on this one.

#2 No Known Malicious Activity

Tenor is also not a source of malicious software. 

Unfortunately, being vetted by the Google Play Store is only worth so much in this regard. 

Lots of apps have been found to contain malicious elements, even though they’re available on the Play Store. 

So, we can’t just count on that.

The good news is that there are no major sources that suggest Tenor engages in malicious software distribution or malicious behavior. 

Once again, reviews cut in favor of the app, and third parties that are heavily invested in user security and safety vouch for Tenor. 

When you think about how the app works, it’s not surprising that it’s safe in this regard, and we’ll even touch on that more in a bit.

#3 Middle of the Road Privacy Policy

Even if Tenor isn’t overtly malicious, you still have to wonder about data and privacy when you use the app. 

Does it collect data when you use it? 

What does it do with that data?

Since Tenor is owned by Google, it follows Google’s data and privacy policies and practices

Here’s the short version. 

The app definitely creates user statistics when you use it. 

It does look at a lot of things on your phone, including raw data that is not necessary for the app to function (largely things that would be found in log files).

In accordance with Google policy, Tenor reserves the right to collect, store, and share data in this regard. 

It does anonymize shared data, so third parties can’t see anything about you specifically. 

But the data is very likely used for targeted ads and other common big tech practices.

It’s hard to say that any of this is especially unsafe, but if you don’t like having your user data shared, Tenor might not be for you.

#4 Protection of Personal Information

The previous section is talking about user data that can be anonymized. 

Tenor also has access to personal information that cannot be anonymized. 

This might include your name, contact information, and even financial information.

On this note, Tenor scores pretty well. 

It doesn’t share this kind of personal information. 

There are no known instances of Tenor being breached and leaking personal information to third parties.

That said, Google has faced data breaches before, and Google is ultimately running Tenor. 

So, the risk does exist, but it’s minor when compared to an app that might deliberately share personal information. 

Also, despite Google’s past breach, its security record is well above average.

#5 Content Curation

Another aspect of safety is tied to what you actually see with the app. 

Is there a risk of pornography or other things you might find inappropriate? 

In general, Tenor is pretty safe in this regard.

The app is curated by Google standards, so there is no overtly inappropriate content on the app. 

GIFs are vetted to keep things pretty clean. 

Some stuff does slip through the vetting process, but users can report inappropriate GIFs, and the Tenor admins can take down such content.

That said, users can find creative ways to be inappropriate, and there are limits to what Tenor can do to stop it. 

If you’re worried about kids using the app, it’s really up to you. 

They shouldn’t find deliberately bad stuff in the GIF library, but how they use the GIFs that are available is a major question mark.

You’ll have to use your own discretion there.

How Does Tenor Protect Users? (2 Considerations)

Of the major concerns, Tenor does well with most of them. 

Privacy protection is where it has the greatest lapses, and even there, it’s average among apps and tech companies. 

But, digital safety runs a lot deeper than this. 

Is Tenor doing anything specific to protect users?

You already read about content curation and Malware screening. 

Those are excellent steps that do protect users.

Beyond that, the primary functionality of Tenor makes it a poor way to try to cause harm to other users. 

Since it’s not really a direct communication tool, Tenor users can’t attack you with it. 

At least, Tenor cannot be used to send you malicious files the way direct communication tools (like, say, WhatsApp) could. 

Tenor just doesn’t supply the mechanism.

In fact, looking closely at Tenor’s limitations helps to understand why the app can only cause so many problems, and they tend to be minor when compared to the full range of things that can go against you on the internet.

#1 Tenor Is Just a Keyboard

This is the biggest thing protecting Tenor users. 

The app is just a keyboard. 

Ok, technically it’s not actually a keyboard. 

It’s less than that. 

It’s a directory of GIFs that can interact with your keyboard.

Since we’ve established that the app isn’t malicious or a scam, it leaves very little room for the app to be harmful. 

It doesn’t need deep levels of access to your device in order to work. 

It doesn’t involve direct file sharing, so the risk of malware is incredibly low.

Tenor is pretty simple compared to what a lot of apps do. 

The design doesn’t provide as many ways for things to go bad or turn dangerous. 

That’s your primary layer of protection. 

GIFs can only cause so much harm. 

If you’re ok with that, then Tenor is safe.

#2 Tenor Only Supplies GIFs

At the risk of sounding redundant. 

Tenor is not a fully functioning keyboard. 

Specifically, this means that you cannot type messages with the app. 

It really only helps you find GIFs, and because of that, there are a lot of potentially harmful things that Tenor cannot do (or enable).

Here’s an example. 

You can’t tell an explicit story with tenor. 

So, if you’re worried about inappropriate content for children, a person can try to hint at things you won’t like, but explicit descriptions don’t really work.

In that same vein, it’s extremely difficult to use Tenor for social engineering and scams. 

Can you imagine trying to catfish someone with only GIFs? 

That’s an incredible challenge. 

Essentially, the limitations of the medium make it hard for other users to do a lot of bad things that are actually pretty easy with a standard keyboard (like running scams).

On a different note, you can’t use Tenor to write a URL link and send it to someone (granted you can use the standard keyboard for that). 

That means that Tenor cannot be used to send malicious or harmful links to other people.

The limitations of the app help to keep it safe for use.

Now, none of that means that Tenor can prevent you from other risks on the phone.

But, the app itself is safe in these ways.


  • Theresa McDonough

    Tech entrepreneur and founder of Tech Medic, who has become a prominent advocate for the Right to Repair movement. She has testified before the US Federal Trade Commission and been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, helping influence change within the tech industry.