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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

                Vikas is the co-founder of Infobrandz, an Infographic design agency that offers creative visual content solutions to medium to large companies.

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                Last Updated on November 20, 2020

                How to Type Faster: 12 Typing Tips and Techniques

                How to Type Faster: 12 Typing Tips and Techniques

                Do you know that being able to type faster makes you more productive? In fact, it’ll save you 21 days every year just by typing faster!

                Many people look up to master typists and wish that they could handle a keyboard like they do. The truth is that none of them started that way, and they had to learn.

                How can you learn how to type faster?

                In this article, you’ll learn 12 useful fasting typing tips and techniques.

                1. Improve Your Workspace

                Many people believe that fast and correct typing will start when you can master the keyboard. However, the truth is that you will need to begin with getting a workspace that is clean, properly ventilated, and comfortable. Also, for optimal typing, you will need to get a table and not work with your laptop or computer on your lap.

                If you will be working for an extended period, make sure that you’re comfortable.

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                2. Fix Your Posture

                If you want to type well, the correct posture will be seated, straight backed, and with your feet planted a little apart, flat on the ground. You wrists should also be positioned in such a way that your fingers can cover the keyboard. Tilt your head a bit as you can look at the screen properly as well.

                Adjust your office chair so you’ll be able to easily play with the seat and get a proper posture[1].

                Learn how to type faster with correct posture.

                  3. Hold Your Posture

                  It is also very important that you keep this position as you type. Ensure that your posture is good, and this way, you will be able to avoid getting aches on your wrists. These aches have a way of slowing you down and keeping you out of rhythm.

                  Keep your back and shoulders from hunching, and while relaxation should be your key goal as you work on, also be sure to stay upright.

                  4. Familiarize Yourself with the Keyboard

                  The keyboard is your tool here, so you will need to get to know it. Fortunately for you, most keyboards that you see will make use of the same layout; the QWERTY layout. It is called that because of the letters that make the top left corner. You’ll also find that a lot of keyboards have keys around these main ones that do several things.

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                  Here’s a nice video to help you familiarize yourself with the keyboard:

                  Work on memorizing the positions of the letter keys, as well as some of the most used punctuation marks. You will need to understand where they are without looking at the keyboard. This is the only way you can learn to type fast.

                  5. Close Your Eyes and Say the Keys out Loud as You Press Them

                  Another great way to get to know the positions of these letters is to look away from them and directly at the screen. Then, pronounce the keys as you press them and see if you’re correct. This step will go a long way in helping you to memorize the keys, and it can easily help you learn how to type faster.

                  6. Start Slowly With Touch-Typing

                  Improving your speed as you type is a matter of developing your muscle memory over time. However, the quickest way to master typing will be learning touch typing[2]. If this is your first time with touch typing, then you might spend a lot of time on this step. However, once you can type key combinations without looking at the keyboard layout, your speed will increase.

                  7. Don’t Look at Your Hands

                  The whole essence of this step is to keep you from looking at your keyboard as you type so that your fingers are made to learn how the keys work.

                  Again, you might find that your speed reduces when you begin, but just stick to it. Touch typing will help you to reach higher speeds and master it.

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                  8. Practice, Practice, Practice

                  Mastering the touch typing technique will prove to be a bit finicky, but once your posture is up and you get your fingers where they should be, you can only improve by practicing.

                  Spare some time on a daily basis to practice and master both accuracy and speed. With continuous practice, you will also notice that you make fewer errors with time.

                  9. Check out Some Online Typing Games

                  There are also some websites that can help you with your practicing. They score you and record your words per minute, so you can try improving your record and competing with others as well. Here are some of the best sites:

                  10. Dictation Practice

                  If you don’t know what you can write, another alternative to getting good practice is to listen to something and try to type as you hear the words. There is no limit to the kind of things you can write, and you can even make the practice process more fun.

                  Get an e-book, an online lecture, or listen to a TV show or talk show.

                  11. Monitor Your Progress

                  Ensure that you keep track of the progress you make as you go on. However, it is important that you don’t get obsessed with how many words you are able to type in a minute. Rather, ensure that you stay comfortable while you’re practicing. With time, your words per minute will increase, and you’ll be able to clock up some high numbers.

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                  12. Get Some Formal Training

                  There are many specially designed courses and typing lessons that will boost your abilities. If you’re willing to improve your skill, get any of these and see how well they work for you:

                  The Bottom Line

                  Typing is a skill that takes time to develop, but with practice and dedication, you can learn how to get faster at typing and improve your productivity on a day-to-day basis.

                  One day, you may even improve your typing so much that you reach 40 wpm!

                  More Tips on How to Type Faster

                  Featured photo credit: Cytonn Photography via unsplash.com

                  Reference

                  [1] Well: Working WELL anywhere
                  [2] Techopedia: Touch Typing

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