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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 July 8, 2020

                10 Smart Productivity Software to Boost Work Performance

                10 Smart Productivity Software to Boost Work Performance

                Productivity is the ability to perform tasks efficiently and in a timely manner. In today’s busy and competitive business world, productivity is paramount for any business, organization or corporation.

                Productivity is more than just performing tasks successfully. It is about investing and allocating resources, so the company or business can perform to meet its core goals.

                As part of 2019, it is important to commit to new goals. When shopping around for new productivity software keep in mind the following things: cost, reliability, cross-platform compatibility, on the go, technical support, etc.

                In the subsequent sections, we will examine the most recommended productivity software in the marketplace. In addition, we will look at what makes them tick and what separates them from the rest of the pack.

                Projects and Tasks Management

                1. Monday dot com

                  Monday dot com was founded to create a team management solution so people connect to workplace processes across any industry. The productivity tool is used in more than 140 countries.

                  The user interface is intuitive and impressive. It makes collaboration productive and fun because of its simplicity.

                  The tool is deemed to have one of the best user experiences across the mobile and online project and task management platform.

                  The product includes usability, customization, admin control, group management and control, private or public control, in-group messaging and more.

                  Check out the software here!

                  2. Asana

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                    The mantra behind Asana’s product is to enable teams from across different organizations to work together effortlessly.

                    The software comes with lots of customizations. When you create a project as a user, you can choose between a traditional task view and the kanban-style board view. The dashboard allows you to see the progress on a project, and it includes an excellent advanced set of search tools.

                    Also, Asana’s Android and iOS apps do retain the web interface’s clean look and feel.

                    Check out the software here!

                    3. Trello

                      Trello was founded in the summer of 2010 and two years later the platform added 500,000 members. Anyone within sales, marketing, HR and operations can collaborate successfully with this product.

                      Moreover, the tool has over 100 plus integrations with Google Drive, Slack, Jira and others. The product works flawlessly across various platforms.

                      Some of the well-known features includes is speed, easy-to-use, and set up. The interface includes due dates, assignments, file storage, checklists and more.

                      Check out the software here!

                      4. Jira

                        The Jira software is flexible and heralded as the next-generation project.

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                        The software allows teams to design and adapt the software to an organization’s needs. This includes having visibility into long term goals, project roadmaps, status of work, real-time release information and more. In addition, the interface is customizable.

                        The Atlassian Cloud does not support multiple separate domains, subdomains or domain aliases in Google Apps.

                        Check out the software here!

                        5. Evernote Business

                          Evernote was founded in 2008 and reached 11 million users by 2011. The company was founded on the premise that their product should address the ever-increasing volume and speed of information.

                          The product helps bring together groups of teams because of versatility and functionality. It creates documents, collaboration on projects, store information all a single location.

                          Moreover, you can find information quickly and includes effective search capabilities and integrations with existing tools you may already use.

                          Check out the software here!

                          Communication

                          6. Slack

                            Slack was founded in 2013 and the tool is heralded as a collaboration hub. Slack is where productivity happens. When you start a new project, hire new staff, deploy a code, review a sales contract, finalize on a budget, Slack covers all of these. Some of the major highlights include highly customizable notifications and seamless integrations with other collaboration and office tools. The free version of the software comes loaded with features, but does not archive old message. So, you have to review what are the best options for your organization or business.

                            Check out the software here!

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                            7. Spike

                              Newcomer Spike makes emails more conversational by helping teams maintain productivity, communication, and collaboration. All of these are achieved from within their inbox.

                              Spike works on top of any existing email (O365, G suite, and IMAP) turning it into a real-time messenger and making your communication much more functional and efficient.

                              Spike’s features include built-in groups and channels, voice and video calls, email encryption, instant access to all your files, and much more.

                              Check out the software here!

                              Creation

                              8. Office 365

                                Microsoft’s Office 365 could not be excluded from the conversation and especially as it pertains to productivity software.

                                Of course we are all familiar with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. But there is more capabilities that come with it.

                                You have business-class email, online storage space, and teamwork solutions. These services can be accessed from just about anywhere.

                                Within this suite is Microsoft Sway, which is a presentation software and a step above PowerPoint.

                                Check out the software here!

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                                9. Grammarly

                                  Grammarly helps to cut down time on editing. Professionals in several industries like law, healthcare, academia, marketing, engineering and journalism use it to provide instant feedback on the accuracy of writing in English.

                                  Once you install the extension from Google Chrome, you can get corrections when you are drafting an email, using social media and other apps.

                                  Grammarly is AI powered and it’s a wonderful tool to have to check spelling and grammar before a presentation.

                                  Check out the software here!

                                  Team Analytics

                                  10. ActivTrak

                                    ActivTrak is a business intelligence tool that allows you to access team behavior analytics. In other words, it is data-driven.

                                    The pros include two-factor authentication with active directory integration. You can also automate your alerts and it has an intuitive interface with easy-to-use admin controls.

                                    Furthermore, it comes with Google sign-in, iOS app, productivity track, and more. The bottomline is the product offers employee productivity metrics along with team behavior analytics.

                                    Check out the software here!

                                    The Bottom Line

                                    Depending on the size, budget, resources, and immediate needs of your company, not all productivity software will exactly solve your problem. You will have to contact any of the providers above and probe extensively to find the right product that is made for your business.

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                                    Featured photo credit: Domenico Loia via unsplash.com

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