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5 Popular Social Platforms & Apps with Glaring Privacy Issues

5 Popular Social Platforms & Apps with Glaring Privacy Issues

2016 saw one of the biggest mud fights between the U.S government and one of the most popular agents of big data, Apple. The FBI wanted access to the iPhone used by Syed Farook, one of the San Bernardino shooters who killed 14 people in late 2015. Apple resisted the government’s request, citing the risk of setting a dangerous precedence in efforts to safeguard user data and personal information.

Among other things, this has exposed the soft underbelly of human rights and freedoms in the face of a growing digital world that is ferrying more data than was ever imaginable. Social platforms and mobile apps are becoming more data-centric, usually depending on personal information to improve and customize the user’s experience.

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    But are these platforms doing enough to ensure your information is protected?

    Check out these 5 popular messaging platforms where your personal data might just be at risk.

    1. BlackBerry Messenger

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    BlackBerry Messenger – BBM

      Long before WhatsApp and Google Hangouts became famous, BlackBerry Messenger – BBM – was the king of instant messaging. In the mid-2000s, instant messaging was a fast and often cheaper way of sending messages and BBM was comfortably in the driver’s seat. By 2012, BBM had over 60 million users around the world.

      A few years later, BlackBerry started its downfall, taking BBM with it. There were many reasons for the fall of BlackBerry, one of them being privacy issues with BBM. While BBM provided end-to-end encryption for messages on the platform, this was only available in the paid version of the app. This meant that users with the basic version of the application did not have their messages encrypted.

      BBM only recently unlocked some of the privacy features on the premium package for its basic users. Others are still exclusively available on the premium version, which basically means data associated with basic users can still be accessed by governments and spy agencies whenever they want to.

      2. Snapchat

      Snapchat

        Since its launch in 2011, Snapchat has grown to become one of the most popular social platforms for image and video sharing. Snapchat allows you to take photos and videos which are then deleted 10 seconds after the recipient views them. That means you are less likely to get stalkers and other sinister individuals downloading your photos and videos for their personal use, right? Wrong.

        Users can still take screenshots of your pictures before the 10-second countdown expires. You still get a notification when a screenshot is taken, but that’s pretty much the only defense you have.

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        Snapchat provides no true data encryption and can track your media and messages, contrary to what its privacy policy says. Snapchat provided data to the government upon request in 2015, which indicates cached user data is still stored on Snapchat servers.

        Snapchat also says in its privacy policy that your permission is required to access contacts and photos on your phone. However, it allows users to search for friends using Snapcodes, username, and from the user’s address book, which means users still get tracked by Snapchat. You can also find Snapchat friends using a number of external directories.

        3. Google Hangouts

        Google hangout

          Google Hangouts is one of Google’s IM platforms that offer one of the simplest interfaces for any IM platform. Hangouts supports video calls and conferencing, which makes it a worthy alternative to Skype. However, Hangouts doesn’t support end-to-end encryption, which makes it easy for anyone with the right tools and authority to access your messages.

          The guys at Google are however kind enough to notify you of this fact, which is laid down in their privacy policy. Otherwise, Google Hangouts is a very functional alternative to other popular IM platforms on Android and iOS platforms.

          4. Viber

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          Viber

            Viber is another popular IM app that enables users to send and receive both voice and video messages. It has over 100 million active monthly users and growing, which makes it extremely popular in a world dominated by WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

            Viber provides end-to-end encryption for messages sent between its users. However, Viber does not provide a definition of threats on its policy document and also has a poor notification system about available threats within the app.

            5. WeChat

            Wechat

              WeChat is a cross-platform IM application that enables users to send voice, video, and text messages. It is also one of the fastest growing chat applications in the world, with over a billion accounts having been created as of 2016. It is owned by Tencent, a company based in China, which means communication via the app is regulated under Chinese law.

              WeChat collects personal information from users but does not apply any form of encryption on messages sent between users. Amnesty International recently cited WeChat as one of the platforms with the poorest policies for freedom of expression and data security. This essentially means that any data and personal information sent via WeChat can be accessed by third parties such as governments.

              Conclusion

              Instant messaging has become an intrinsic part of everyday life that most of us can’t do without. The threat to personal privacy, however, is as real as could be. If you are a user on any of the platforms discussed, there are practical measures you can take to ensure the safety and security of your data.

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                Start by limiting the amount of information you send via the platform, especially if your messages are not encrypted. Additionally, ensure you go through the app’s privacy policy to understand any limitations imposed by the platform.

                It’s a big data world out there, so stay safe and put a lock on your personal information.

                Featured photo credit: androidauthority via cdn01.androidauthority.net

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                Vikas Agrawal

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                Trending in Technology

                1 8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast 2 15 Organization Apps to Boost Your Personal Productivity 3 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track in 2019 4 7 Clever Goal Tracker Apps to Keep You on Track in 2019 5 How to Type Faster: 12 Typing Tips and Techniques

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                Last Updated on September 11, 2019

                8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

                8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

                Computers and cell phones have become an integrated tool in our professional and personal lives that the original methods of using pen and paper may not be so common anymore.

                Although our old-school methods of note taking may not have entirely left us, technology is advancing with no intention of slowing down; iPads are moving into service industries, video calls are taking the place of in-person interviews, and store receipts are making its way into our email inbox – all of which requires the skill of typing.

                Learning a new skill doesn’t have to be boring and never had to be. Thankfully, there are effective games and apps that can help you learn to type fast with swift precision and accuracy.

                Why Typing Fast Matters?

                Learning how to type fast is a game changer. In fact, you can save 21 days per year by typing fast!

                Although shaving several minutes from curating a long email or texting paragraphs in a text message may not seem to be of great significance, the minutes soon do eventually add up and the long list of tasks then evolve into frustration. By the end of the day, time is being wasted, and the work pile is stacked high over your head.

                Why not alleviate some of those frustrations through practice and dedicating your spare time to build muscle memory?

                Learning a simple skillset like speed typing can drastically improve other essential areas in life including time-management and prioritization. Not only does it help you efficiently complete tasks at work and in your personal life, but it also boosts your productivity.

                8 Most Effective Typing Games and Apps

                Everyone learns at different speeds and uses various methods. While some work better under pressure and tight deadlines, others thrive when given ample amounts of time to learn and soak in the knowledge that is being provided. Despite the number of resources that are available in the hollow corners of the internet, it’s all about finding one source that helps you learn at your fullest potential.

                Whether you’re a keyboard ninja or not, here are some effective typing games and apps that allow you to test your speed, accuracy, and maybe shoot some spaceships along the way.

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                For Beginners

                1. Speed Typing Online

                  What’s more fun than to type to the story of Alice in Wonderland or the lyrics to “Hey Jude”? Speed Typing Online is an online typing game that allows you to dive into the creative and familiar world of famous books, fables, songs, and even hone your skills in data entry.

                  The bright blue frame holds the text, which then turns green after punching in the accurate keystrokes. After the end of the personal timer, a statistics page appears to show you your typed words per minute, accuracy, correct and incorrect entries, and error rate.

                  2. Typing Trainer

                    Typing Trainer

                    is another online platform suited for beginner typists looking for step-by-step lessons. Learning the keys on a keyboard can confusing especially for those who aren’t as familiar or getting adjusted to typing on a computer keyboard.

                    Typing Trainer has a collection of step-by-step tutorials that covers everything from sentence drills, introduction to new keys as the lessons progress, and skills test. The Typing Trainer specifically highlights unique features in each lesson including a warm-up section where the user begin to build muscle memory and learn to type without looking at the keyboard.

                    The website is also programed to identify difficulties the user is facing when typing specific words or sentences.

                    3. TapTyping – Typing Trainer

                      There is the feeling of physically typing on a keyboard and then there’s the feeling of typing on a touch screen mobile device.

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                      Since the use of cell phones has become closely integrated into our everyday lives, learning to type on a mobile is much of a skillset as it is to type on a computer. The mobile typing app, TapTyping – Typing Trainer, allows users to practice while on-the-go making it perfect for commuters who want to practice typing during their down time.

                      The app allows you to challenge other typists around the world with TapTyping’s global leaderboard and test your skills by taking advanced lessons. There’s always room for improvement and with the app, you’ll be able to find your mistakes by watching a heat map of your finger strokes.

                      For professional writers and programmers

                      4. The Most Dangerous Writing App

                        Suitable for writers facing a creative block or on a tight-deadline, the Most Dangerous Writing App is a website that forces your fingers to type as quickly as your ideas.

                        If you stop longer than 5 seconds, everything you had written will slowly disappear from the screen.

                        Sessions are timed from 3 minutes to 20 minutes, or can go from 75 to 1667 words. This online app is perfect to brain dump ideas, write a chapter of a manuscript you’ve been stuck on, or help with procrastination.

                        If you’re up to the challenge, try the hardcore mode – an alternative option where a single letter appears on the screen at a time. This level prevents you from seeing the entire word, sentences, or even correct any spelling or grammatical mistakes until the timer is complete.

                        If you’re wondering, copying and pasting is not an option until each the end of each session.

                        5. The Typing Cat

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                          Looking to upgrade your typing skills? Also working as a personal tutor, the Typing Cat has a list of regular typing courses with the option to try other lessons with more complexity such as HTML. Learning to type code is a another valulable skillset worth adding.

                          Even with disregarded interest in the coding world, using the code course enhances your typing skills and allows your fingers to familiarize itself with uncommon word combinations and placement of punctuations on a keyboard.

                          The coding course can be difficult even for typing whizzes, but it’s all a part of muscle memory. According Psychology Today,[1] only a handful of people actually learn how to type by looking at an actual keyboard, while a majority of the population locate specific keys intuitively through muscle memory.

                          Available courses include EcmaScript 6, HTML 5, and CSS 3.

                          Fun typing games

                          6. ZType — Space Invaders Meet Webster

                            Remember playing the iconic 70’s game that allowed you to shoot tiny purple and green aliens from one end of the screen to the other with a two-bullet laser? It’s hard to believe that Space Invaders just turned 40 , but you can still get the same adrenaline rush with ZType, a typing game with the same shooting concept.

                            Ztype works in waves – stages that must be cleared but instead of aliens, you must type out the words before the missiles destroy your ship at the bottom of the screen. Every so often, longer and mor complex words would appear and if the words are not typed in the allotted time, a series of letters will disperse like missles.

                            The game is quick on the fingers and will still have your heart pumping until the very end.

                            7. Epistory – Typing Chronicles

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                              Although this game does cost money to purchase, it is worth the investment if you’re looking for a refreshing and alternative mode to learning how to type fast.

                              Epistory – Typing Chronicles is a role-playing action and adventure game of a young girl riding a fox in a magical and fictional realm; together they combat enemies in the shapes and forms of words.

                              Once you’re starterted, you almost forget you’re playing a typing game. The paper craft art aesthetics of the game has you captivated by the vibrant colors and character’s storyline, while having you build your typing skills.

                              8. Daily Quote Typing

                                Need some inspiration? Say no more.

                                Daily Quote Typing is one of many gammes available on Wordgames.com – a website that offers a variety of typing games ranging from different levels based on your experience.

                                With Daily Quote Typing, users are able to type out inspirational quotes by famous leaders, inventors, and innovators such as Mark Twain and Albert Einstein.

                                Bottom Line

                                At the end of the day, discipline and patience is what teaches to type faster. It comes down to making that commitment to improving not only your typing abilities, but in a lifelong skill that benefits other areas in life.

                                By practicing daily and using effective games and apps, it’s only a matter of time before keystrokes will become second nature and your brain will adapt to learning other skills faster.

                                Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                                Reference

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