Advertising
Advertising

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.

worker-writting-in-a-phone_1150-93

    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

    Advertising

    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.

        Advertising

        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

          Advertising

          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.

              Advertising

              j58jt39moi

                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

                More by this author

                Vikas Agrawal

                Designing & Marketing

                How to Create an Infographic Resume That Will Impress Your Future Employer This Skill Is Not Taught in School, But It Hugely Affects Our Success in Life How I Get Things Done with Only Half of the Time Others Need Writing a Great Value Statement Can Bring In Tons of Money for Your Business All-Natural Tips for Fighting Insomnia and Sleeping Better

                Trending in Technology

                1 11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort 2 Transform Your Memories: 10 Best Photo Editing Apps 3 5 Killer Online Journal Tools That Make Journaling Easier and More Fun 4 10 Best Task List Apps Out There for Getting Stuff Done 5 20 Google Search Tips to Use Google More Efficiently

                Read Next

                Advertising
                Advertising

                Published on September 20, 2018

                11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

                11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

                In today’s fast-paced and never-ending busy world, we are overwhelmed by tasks that need to be completed by tight deadlines. With so much technology it is difficult to find the right tools to help boost our efficiency. And, many tools get obsolete so its essential to stay up-to-date to know when you will have to make adjustments to these tools. Independently of where you work, there’s a good chance that you have to be working on a PC or a laptop.

                Do you are feel like you do not have enough time, or cannot accomplish much as of late? It is recommended to take a step back and look at the big picture. Also, you want to explore new and innovative ways to improve productivity.

                In this article, I outline 11 features and apps within the Chrome browser that can help you do just that.

                Minimizing Tabs

                Let’s face it we all have more than a dozen tabs opened on our computers. One neat trick to still keep most of them open is to turn them into pinned tabs. On Google Chrome you can right-click the tab and select “Pin Tab” option. This turns the tab into an icon enabling you to continue multitasking.

                Pinning a tab anchors the tabs on the left of your toolbar; a great benefit of the “Pin Tab” feature is that you can’t close these tabs accidentally since the “X” disappears after pinning them.

                Incognito Mode

                Google Chrome is a very easy-to-use and intuitive. But, Google does collect our browsing data; so to remedy this, you can use Incognito Mode. This feature does not keep your browsing or download history. You can enable or access it in three different ways:

                Advertising

                1. Press Ctrl/Command+shift+N
                2. Select File Menu and choose New Incognito Window
                3. Download extension New Incognito Window

                This feature is very handy if you’d rather not have your browsing history stored and utilized for future advertisement or suggested pages.

                Save Webpages as PDF Files

                Have you ever browsed interesting or important information and then forgot to bookmark or save it in “favorites”, making it impossible to find again? Chances are you have done this on a number of occasions.

                Thankfully, there is an easy solution. You can save webpages as PDF files. On your keyboard, press control/command+p and you will be able to save webpages as PDFs.

                Open Recently-closed Tabs

                Ever had dozens of tabs opened and all of a sudden your browser shuts down? It has probably happened to all of us. You can easily recover all of your tabs using two approaches. Don’t panic if this happens because there is a workaround and solution for it.

                One is by pressing Ctrl/CMD+Shift+T.

                The other approach is to click on the three vertical dots on your browser and hover over “History”.

                Advertising

                Solve Mathematical Problems

                Google’s Chrome browser doesn’t just search for relevant and updated information. It is also capable of performing some mathematical problems. Within the omnibox (Chrome’s address or URL bar), you can perform mathematical exercises.

                For example, if you are struggling with percentages you can search 20 percent of x amount and it will instantly provide a result. Pretty handy, right?!

                Play Media Files

                Are you frequently met with difficulties when playing or watch a video files? Well, once again Chrome comes to the rescue. You can can listen or play videos from all sorts of movie or music files (mp3, mp4, .mov, .mkv, .ogv, .webm, .wav, etc.) by simply dragging the file into the search bar.

                In addition, you can view images, PDF files and Microsoft Office files, too.

                Navigate Swiftly Between Tabs

                With all of those tabs opened comes great navigation responsibilities. Rather than clicking through every tab, you can use shortcut keys like Ctrl+Tab to navigate all of the different tabs. Also, you are able to navigate to the first tab by pressing Ctrl-1, Ctrl-2, and so on. If you want to switch to the very last tab, press Ctrl-9.

                Stay Focus(e)d

                Computers nowadays have awesome capabilities.

                Advertising

                Sometimes we like to get work done, but let’s face it, we’re all human. We sometimes procrastinate by visiting a website we really like, or maybe take a break with watching a flick on Netflix, a video on YouTube or browsing Facebook.

                With Chrome’s StayFocusd extension, you can truly stay focused and get more done in less time.

                This extension naturally helps you stay more productive by limiting the amount of time you spend on websites. You can set the time and it will automatically block those sites after a certain period.

                Grammarly for Editing

                Grammarly is a must have, and it’s really a complete powerhouse. Grammarly helps you check your grammar and spelling for everything you write online.

                You can use it professionally or as a student, which will make the editing process much easier and more efficient. Furthermore, it can automatically check for typos when you send an email, type a Tweet, or post a Facebook comment. It’s like having your own personal copyeditor!

                Loom

                There are times that words in an email or written text in a chat app will just not convey the right meaning.

                Advertising

                There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, the same is true of videos.

                With Loom, you can capture, narrate and immediately share video recordings of your screen, which will help coworkers understand issues you are facing, or to easily convey an explanation on screen. Plus, with video you will be able to easily walk people through a process, and you can use it to create simple how-to videos.

                Chrome Calendar Extension

                No matter what your level of responsibility is at your job, Google Calendar is another essential resource to have at your fingertips.

                Specifically, you can have this extension added as an icon in the toolbar of your browser, which I highly recommend. Once you add the extension to your browser, you can check for upcoming events with a single click without leaving your current page.

                Final Thoughts

                Google Chrome has definitely evolved from its inception. As you can see you have a very powerful tool that comes as a free installation and is loaded with dozens of capabilities. The above listed Chrome apps can resolve some of the most common obstacles to your time management and productivity.

                Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

                Read Next